After failing to procure the NCAA Div. III Championship title last spring, for the first time since 2008, women’s tennis (1-0) is looking to reassert itself with a strong fall season. Starting off the season on the right note last Sunday, the women destroyed Wellesley 9-0.
The team ended its spring 2014 campaign with a record of 23-3 and ranked No. 3 in the nation, having lost to Amherst in the semifinals of the NCAA Div. III tournament, but pulling out a victory over Johns Hopkins to secure a third-place finish. Having lost two key players to graduation, last year’s co-captains Kara Shoemaker ’14 and Kathleen Elkins ’14, the team will be looking to other players to step up and fill these roles. Elkins and Shoemaker both received All-American and First Team All-NESCAC honors last the spring. Shoemaker was also named NESCAC player of the year and the ITA Northeast Senior Player of the Year. While these two players will be missed, Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 has a talented group of individuals returning to the team who, alongside four first-year students, will work towards bringing the team back to the top. The loss of these players will lead to some restructuring on the team.
“One of our major goals for the fall is to establish our doubles line up, as our No. 2 doubles teams have been the same the past two years before the graduation of Kara [Shoemaker] and Kathleen [Elkins],” tri-captain Rebecca Curran ’15 said.
The team will look to its three senior captains to lead the team to a victorious fall season. Tri-captain Maria Pylypiv ’15 partnered with Elkins last year for a very successful doubles campaign, earning her Second Team All-NESCAC honors. Tri-captain Monica Pastor ’15, looks to continue her success from the spring in both singles and doubles after studying abroad for the last fall season. Curran had a very successful junior year on the team, winning the Div. III ITA National Small College doubles title with Shoemaker and gaining First Team All-NESCAC and ITA All-Academic honors. Maya Hart ’16 and Alex Stone ’16 make up the small, yet powerful junior class. Hart will be studying abroad in the fall and her presence on the court will be missed. Stone, who posted a 12-1 singles record last spring, is a player the team is excited to have returning this year.
It will be exciting to see what sophomore Linda Shin ’17, coming off a wildly impressive freshman campaign, will do in her second year on the team. Shin was ranked No. 18 in Div. III singles play and was named All-American and Second Team All-NESCAC at the end of last spring. Hannah Atkinson ’17 also had a successful first year, teaming up with Shin to make a strong doubles pair and posting a 17-2 singles record in the spring. The final sophomore, Annika Trapness ’17, was voted most improved player by her teammates and looks to continue improving and make her presence known this fall. A large freshman class rounds out the squad and the team is excited to see what Julia Cancio ’18, Maria Gancayco ’18, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio ’18 and Juli Raventos ’18 will bring to the table.
The women started the season off in fine form, defeating Wellesley 9-0 last Sunday. This victory was particularly impressive as most of the doubles pairs were playing together for the first time. In No. 1 doubles, Curran and Gancayco beat their opponents 8-1. Pylypiv and Stone came together to win their match 8-3, while the pairings of Atkinson and Shin and the freshman pair of Raventos and Cancio both defeated their opponents 8-2. The team also excelled in singles, with no Wellesley player able to get more than two games per set off their Williams opponent. Shin, Pylypiv and Cancio each won their singles matches 6-2, 6-0 and McDonnell Nieto del Rio began her Williams tennis career with an impressive 6-0, 6-0 singles victory.
“Today’s match was the first in over 20 duel matches to come in the fall and spring, and we feel it really set the tone both in strategy and execution,” Curran said.
The women will host and compete in the Morehouse Invitational this Saturday and Sunday with matches beginning at 9 a.m. on both days.