Ephs seek 5th straight NCAA title

Following last year’s fourth consecutive national title and an impressive 4-0 fall record in dual matches, top-ranked women’s tennis looks to continue its successes this spring, starting with the team’s opening match on March 18. 

The Ephs will no longer be bolstered by last year’s tri-captains, Katie Friedman ’11, Nikki Reich ’11 and Lucy Marchese ’11, each of whom played an integral role in the team’s 2011 NCAA victory. Reich and Marchese led the doubles front at the No. 1 position. However, this year’s senior tri-captains Kristin Alotta ’12, Caroline Capute ’12 and Taylor French ’12 will step up with plenty of talent and experience under their belts.

Alotta, who earned All-American honors in 2011 for the second year in a row, advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Individual Singles Tournament. She will lead the team’s deep singles lineup. Capute will continue to make a mark in the singles and doubles lineup, while lefty doubles specialist French will also play a critical role as she looks to increase her impressive total of 75 career doubles wins.

“Kristin, Taylor and Caroline bring a wealth of competitive experience and a history of success to help lead our team this season,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “They are clear on their mutual team goals and have a very team-focused leadership perspective. I am excited for our team and to help these three women play some of their best tennis this spring.”

The senior captains are aided by returning players Nancy Worley ’13, Kara Shoemaker ’14, Kathleen Elkins ’14 and Veranika Li ’13. Rookies Rebecca Curran ’15, Maria Pylypiv ’15 and Monica Pastor ’15 proved their singles strength this fall, posting a combined 31-5 record. On top of her 11-2 fall singles record, Curran advanced to the semifinals of the NEWITT tournament and won both her singles and doubles matches in the women’s 6-3 victory over rival Amherst, then ranked at No. 2. Curran now looks to make her mark in a deep and established lineup.

The women get the chance to display their hard work this preseason with their opener at California University of Pennsylvania on March 18. California is ranked 11th nationally in Div. II. The squad will next compete at Carnegie Mellon on March 19 before travelling to Lexington, Va., for the Fab Five Tournament. In Lexington, the women will go up against eighth-ranked Washington & Lee on March 21, third-ranked Emory on March 23 and No. 11 Johns Hopkins on March 24. The spring break trip will wrap up with two tough Div. II matches in Florida against Lynn and Nova Southern Eastern on March 27 and 29, respectively.

The team’s first competition in the Purple Valley will be the much-anticipated battle for the Little Three title against Amherst, set to take place on April 1 at 1 p.m.

Anticipation is high entering the spring season. “We really make it a point to take nothing for granted and to celebrate even the smallest victories,” Capute said. “Right now, we’re just focused on our first few matches of spring break, excited to spend more time with each other and hoping to put everything we’ve worked on this preseason into play.”

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