Women’s tennis opens spring season with wins over Hamilton, Skidmore

Women’s tennis (3–0, 1–0 in the NESCAC) won two matches over the first weekend of its spring season. The women prevailed 9-0 at Hamilton on Saturday and 8-1 at Skidmore on Sunday.

Having beaten the Skidmore Thoroughbreds in each of the last six seasons, the Ephs traveled to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., looking to extend their streak.

The Ephs stormed out to an 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles, courtesy of the partnership of Julia Cancio ’18 and Emily Zheng ’20. The women were held back, however, at No. 2 doubles, as Skidmore’s Brianna Greene and Ada Wiggins staved off a late comeback from Sydney Myong ’20 and co-captain Linda Shin ’17 to win 8-6.

The Thoroughbreds found themselves up 6-3, but the Eph duo clawed back to bring the score to 7-6 Skidmore, before dropping the next game to fall 8-6.

At No. 1 doubles, Chloe Henderson ’20 and co-captain Hannah Atkinson ’17 came through on Court 1. After trading blows all the way to 5-all, the pair won the next three games to give the Ephs the 2-1 advantage going into singles.

Riding the high of their late doubles success, the Ephs trampled the Thoroughbreds in singles to secure the victory. Shin, Atkinson and Mia Gancayco ’18 all notched wins to decide the match for the Ephs.

At No. 1 singles, Leah Bush ’19 was given a three-set test for the second day in a row. She dropped the first set 7-5 but wasted little time in the second, winning 6-1 to level the match. With the overall match outcome already determined, the players played a tiebreaker in lieu of a full third set. Bush triumphed by a 10-5 margin in the decider.

Cancio and Henderson polished off the victory, winning the remaining two singles matches 6-3, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-1, respectively.

“Playing Skidmore before spring break is always a good match for us,” Head Coach Alison Swain ’01 said. “When matches were close, we adapted and stayed calm and determined. We are gaining confidence with each match we play.”

The women opened their spring campaign Saturday afternoon at NESCAC foe Hamilton. Winless in all four of their meetings all-time against the Ephs, the Continentals were unable to reverse their fortunes, as the Ephs coasted to a 9-0 runout in their first match since October.

The Ephs jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Atkinson and Henderson beat their Continental counterparts at No. 1 without dropping a game, and Bush and Gancayco followed shortly thereafter at No. 3, conceding just one game.

The match at No. 2 was tighter, however, and Cancio and Zheng had to grind out a 9-7 win to solidify the 3-0 Eph advantage going into the singles portion. The Continental duo of Claire Keyte and Samantha Weeks kept pace all the way to 7-7 but failed to win either of the following two games, as the Ephs celebrated a doubles sweep.

With their confidence building, the singles portion was more of the same from the Ephs, who claimed the necessary two points to assure themselves of an opening-day victory. Cancio finished her match flawless at No. 4, and Gancayco had only a one-game blemish at No. 3.

The Ephs were not done, however, as Myong followed suit with a win of her own at No. 2. Hamilton had its best chance at No. 1 singles, where Claire Keyte took the first set 6-1 on Bush. Bush responded masterfully, however, and returned the favor with a 6-2 second-set win. In the tiebreaker, Bush rode her momentum to a 10-3 win.

On the remaining two courts, Henderson and Carmen Saab ’19 beat their opponents to polish off the Ephs’ 9-0 sweep.

Swain said that early matches are important in helping players return to form.

“We were able to work through some early-season rust,” she said. “The team is more prepared now for the matches ahead.”

Over spring break, the women, ranked No. 2 nationally in the March 2 ITA poll, travel to Virginia and California to play eight matches. Four of them will be against top 10 teams, and one will be against a Div. I opponent.

“It’s a challenging schedule designed to push us,” Swain said. “We want to gain experience, improve our match play and continue to come together as a team both on and off the court.”

The team’s next match – and the first of that trip – will be against Washington and Lee on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.