Women’s tennis (19-2, 7-0 in the NESCAC) topped Bowdoin in the NESCAC semifinals with an impressive score of 5-1 last Saturday. The next day, however, the women could not overcome rival Amherst, falling in the NESCAC final in a 5-2 loss on Sunday.
Against Bowdoin on Saturday, the women took a 2-1 lead after the doubles matches. At No. 1, tri-captain Taylor French ’12 and Kara Shoemaker ’14 won in an easy 8-1 victory. The No. 2 and No. 3 matches were more tightly contested, with tri-captain Kristin Alotta ’12 and Kathleen Elkins ’14 battling for an 8-5 victory. Nancy Worley ’13 and tri-captain Caroline Capute ’12 were unable to pull out a win at No. 3, falling in a tough 9-7 loss.
The women only needed three singles wins to advance to the finals. Alotta quickly won at No. 1 in a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Elkins, at No. 4, won in an impressive 6-0, 6-2 while No. 6 Capute found victory by the same margin. The women took the match 5-1 and advanced to the NESCAC finals to play rival Amherst.
“The Bowdoin match was some of our best tennis,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “The team really came out aggressive and solid in doubles play. I think we find a lot of strength in our singles, so going into singles play up 2-1 gave us an extra edge. The team was focused and did a great job of closing out sets and matches to win against Bowdoin.”
The women’s win against Bowdoin qualified Williams for the final round of competition on Sunday. Amherst led 2-1 after the doubles rounds. The only doubles victory for the Ephs came from the No. 2 team of Alotta and Elkins, who defeated the Jeffs 8-2.
Amherst needed only three singles matches for the overall victory going into singles play. However, the Ephs didn’t go down without a fight. Fourth-slotted Elkins won her match by scores of 6-1 and 6-3 to even the overall match score at 2-2. Despite Elkins’ performance, Amherst then won the matches it needed to take the championship. Shoemaker pushed her opponent to three sets, but eventually fell 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Alotta, playing at No. 1, also went into three sets but could not pull out a win in time, leaving the match unfinished at 6-2, 3-6, 5-2. At No. 5, Rebecca Curran ’15 lost a close first set 6-4 before dropping the next set 6-1.
“Amherst came out confident and aggressive in singles play,” Swain said. “I think it took us too long to adjust our games, and we opened a big door for them by dropping so many first sets. The match is a great learning experience for us, and I hope we can play more determined and tactically smart tennis in our next match.”
Despite losing the automatic bid to NCAAs with the NESCAC championship, the women’s season is not over. Williams will travel to the NCAA Div. III Championship in Cary, N.C., on the strength of an at-large bid into the tournament. The Ephs, who have won the past four titles, are in the hunt for a fifth national championship this May.
The team will enter competition in the second round with a match on Saturday. The women’s opponent will be the winner of the Elizabethtown-Endicott match on Friday. Play will continue until the championship round, which will be held May 21.