Women’s tennis showcases depth at NEWITTs

Women’s tennis fielded four teams at the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament (NEWITT) hosted by Amherst last weekend. Three of the women’s teams advanced to the tournament semifinals, though Amherst earned the top honors in the ‘A’ flight. “We had the most players from any school into the semis and quarters [of NEWITT], and that happened a lot for us this fall, which definitely shows we’re a deep team,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said.

On Thursday and Friday, Nancy Worley ’13 and Kara Shoemaker ’14 competed in the ITA National Small College Tournament in Mobile, Ala., claiming seventh place overall.

Prior to the start of NEWITT play on Friday, tri-captain Taylor French ’12 was awarded the Lindsey Morehouse Award. The honor is given to the senior woman who displays the most outstanding sportsmanship among the players at NEWITT, as determined by the 17 coaches of the participating teams. The award is named after Williams alum Lindsey Morehouse ’00, who passed away in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“On a team that’s had such success over the last four years, Taylor brings positivity and lightheartedness that keeps that pressure in perspective,” Swain said. “She has a lot of leadership qualities; she’s a hard-worker and a leader, but what sets her apart is her lighthearted perspective.”

The NEWITT format requires that a pair of players compete in a doubles round and that each player in the pair competes individually in a singles round of play. In each matchup, the team with the greatest number of combined wins earns the victory and advances to the next round.

The women’s No. 1 team of tri-captain Kristin Alotta ’12 and Rebecca Curran ’15 cruised to a 3-0 victory over their opponents from Brandeis in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, facing Amherst’s No. 1 pairing, the women were unable to claim victory, falling 3-0.

Playing as the women’s No. 2 team, Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Maria Pylypiv ’15 made it to the finals in the ‘A’ flight. The duo was pitted against Middlebury’s No. 1 team in the semifinals. Elkins and Pylypiv combined to win all three matches, but each victory was narrowly won. Both of the Ephs’ singles matches were decided in super-tiebreakers, and Elkins and Pylypiv had to pull out a comeback victory over Middlebury in the doubles round. The pair ultimately fell to Amherst’s No. 1 team in the ‘A’ flight finals.

“Kathleen and Maria are a scrappy doubles team with a lot of heart,” Swain said. “They run a lot of balls down and came back from being down 5-2 in the quarters and down 4-1 in the semis. It was a great test of their competitive spirit.”

Tri-captain Caroline Capute ’12 and French represented Williams as the No. 3 team. The Ephs drew the Panthers’ No. 1 team in the quarterfinals and fell 3-0. French contributed an impressive performance to reach the quarterfinals, however, winning her singles match against Tufts in the qualifying round 6-3, 1-6, 10-7 after a third-set tie-breaker. French’s victory allowed the duo to top Tufts 2-1.

Williams’ No. 4 team of Monica Pastor ’15 and Lindsey Thygesen ’14 disposed of Tufts’ No. 3 team in the semifinals of the ‘B’ flight with a 3-0 win. The women claimed the top finish in the ‘B’ flight after dispatching their Middlebury opponent in the finals by a 3-0 margin.

Last Thursday and Friday, Worley and Shoemaker competed in the ITA National Small College Tournament. The women, who have played as Williams’ No. 1 doubles pair this season, earned their spot in the tournament after claiming second place at the USTA/ITA New England Regional at Bates on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, Worley and Shoemaker fell 6-0, 6-2 in the first round of the tournament against Emory. In the second round, Worley and Shoemaker lost to the doubles team from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, setting them up for the seventh-place match on Friday. The women topped the pair from Whitman 6-4, 6-1 to win their first match of the tournament and claim seventh place overall.

“The ITAs help with individual rankings,” Swain said, “but from a team perspective, they bring back knowledge and experience from competing against the top doubles teams in the nation, which we wouldn’t really get to see on a national stage until the spring.”

Last weekend’s tournaments conclude the women’s fall season. The women will spend the winter training for their competitive spring season.

“I am incredibly proud of how well we performed this fall, both in dual-match play and individually,” Swain said. “In the spring, we’re going to focus on stepping up our doubles play and working on aggressive singles play.”