Women’s tennis (1-0) began its season last Saturday in a dual match against Skidmore emerging victorious from the contest 9-0. The team entered the spring with a 28 dual match winning streak that extends back to May 2014 when the Ephs finished in third place at NCAAs. Now at 29 matches, the streak is the longest in program history.
In the match against Skidmore, Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said her team “focused a lot on our energy and a positive attitude on court throughout the momentum changes in the match. We did an excellent job in the match, and we are focused as a team on continuing this attitude throughout the spring season.”
The Ephs have won the NCAA title in seven of their last eight years and had an unblemished 2014-15 season (25-0). This is the sixth time that the women have entered a spring season as the defending NCAA champions. As usual, the spring begins with six competitive Div. III matches against nationally-ranked opponents.
The match against Skidmore also marked the return of two players to the Williams squad. Hannah Atkinson ’17 returns to the team after a semester abroad, and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio ’18 returns this spring from an injury that cut her freshman spring season short.
Last Saturday, Atkinson secured a 6-0, 6-3 win in singles, as well as an 8-1 victory with doubles partner Mia Gancayco ’18. In doubles, Juli Raventos ’18 and Linda Shin ’17, as well as captain Maya Hart ’16 and Julia Cancio ’18, were able to down their opponents. Raventos, Gancayco, Shin, Atkinson and Cancio won their respective matches in the singles portion of the match, as did Alex Stone ’16. All matches against Skidmore were dispatched in two sets.
“Skidmore was a great way for us to kick off the spring season,” Hart said. “They are a solid team that made us compete from the start. We all felt like we were challenged and had to step up our play across the board.”
The team returns a strong roster, with a number of players who have competed in the NCAA Championships. Last spring, Atkinson played at No. 6 singles in the 2015 NCAA Championship match against Emory. Raventos, Gancayco, Cancio and Shin also all played in singles in the 2015 NCAA Championship match last year.
The Ephs also return five of six doubles players and three All-Americans from their NCAA Championship match against Emory, including the doubles tandem of Raventos and Shin. That Eph duo emerged as the NCAA Doubles Tournament Champions immediately following the NCAA Team Tournament. Raventos went 36-4 in doubles play in her first season of intercollegiate tennis, while Shin was 31-6 last year. Shin and Raventos earned the No. 1 national ranking in doubles.
Raventos also showed promise in the NCAA Singles Tournament by reaching the semifinals, posting a record of 33-5 in singles play and earning a No. 5 national ranking in singles. Shin earned a 31-5 singles record last year and played at No. 2 singles against Emory.
“Heading into spring break and the rest of the spring season, we are all excited to play many tough matches,” Hart said. “We have been practicing for a month now and are excited to show how much we have improved. We hope to compete our best against the nationally-ranked teams that we know will really push us.”
The team now looks forward to spring break play against John Hopkins, Washington and Lee, Claremont McKenna, Trinity, DePauw and Emory. Their next match against John Hopkins is at home at 8 a.m. on March 19.