Women’s tennis kicked off its fall season last weekend at the Lindsay Morehouse ’00 invitational. The tournament is named in honor of a former Eph tennis captain who died in New York in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Though there is a victor in each match, no tournament champion is crowned at the end of the tournament. Instead, the Morehouse Invitational highlights every player on a team’s roster and celebrates participation at the start of a new season.
The action began Friday, with the women squaring off against Middlebury and Skidmore in doubles. Middlebury swept two matches, as sophomore duo Maddi Stow and Catherin Blayze overcame co-captain Juli Raventos ’18 and Sasha Cayward ’21 8-6. Co-captain Julia Cancio ’18 and Emily Zheng ’20 fell by a score of 8-4.
The women were able to bounce back against Skidmore, sweeping three doubles matches. Chloe Henderson ’20 and Rachel Cross ’21 won 8-3, while Korina Neveux ’19 and co-captain Mia Gancayco ’18 dispatched their opponents 8-2. Leah Bush ’19 and Ksoosha Ramras ’21 prevailed 8-4 to finish Day One.
“Starting the Invitational with doubles was an excellent opportunity for us to kick off some rust and nerves,” Head Coach Anik Cepeda said. “I was impressed with how the first-years carried themselves on the court.”
On Saturday, the women played 21 matches against Skidmore, Middlebury and Wellesley. The Ephs compiled a 20-1 record in Day Two’s matches. Cancio swept her opponent 6-0, 6-0, as did Zheng. Neveux cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory, and Cayward, Cross and Ramras also secured wins against Skidmore players.
The women continued their singles success against Wellesley later in the day, sweeping six matches. Gancayco overcame her opponent 6-0, 6-0, while Raventos locked in her win by a score of 6-0, 6-1.
In doubles, the Ephs went 4-1. Raventos and Cayward defeated their Middlebury opponents 8-4. Henderson and Bush also added a doubles win, alongside their teammates Cross and Zheng. The only Eph loss on the day came in the final doubles match against the Panthers, as Neveux and Gancayco fell to first-year duo Emily Bian and Ann Martin Skelly. The Ephs ended doubles on a high note, however, as Cancio and Ramras defeated the Thoroughbred team 8-0.
The Ephs went 13-2 on the third and final day, with Sunday’s two losses coming in singles against the Panthers.
“Sunday was a mental test on so many levels,” Cepeda said. “Middlebury played tough and fought hard from start to finish – well done to their whole squad for a great match and a solid tournament.”
Neveux, Ramras and Zheng got the day started with three singles wins against Skidmore. Against Middlebury, Raventos bounced back from a 5-7 first-set loss to take the second 6-3. Blayze, however, battled to an 11-9 win in the third set to secure the match for Middlebury.
Cross and Cayward both secured wins despite both dropping the first set. Henderson and Gancayco also secured singles victories against Middlebury. Cancio took the first set against Stow but ultimately fell in three sets.
The Ephs managed a six-match sweep in doubles. Bush paired up with Zheng to lock down an 8-3 win, while Raventos and Cayward overcame their opponents 8-1. Cancio and Neveux earned a win as well.
Cepeda applauded her team’s endurance at the end of the long weekend.
“I’m proud of our grit,” she said. “Especially on the last morning, when so much tennis had already been played, we bounced back from deficits on several courts. That is huge.”
Each year, at the conclusion of the Morehouse Invitational, the College presents the Lindsay Morehouse Award to acknowledge a player who “represents the ideals of sportsmanship, friendliness, character, fair play and hard work that Lindsay represented.” This year, the College awarded the honor to Middlebury junior Molly Paradies.
Coming off of a season in which they won their eighth national championship in the last 10 years, the Ephs will have to compete without All-American co-captains Hannah Atkinson ’17 and Linda Shin ’17.
“At this stage adjustments happen every day,” Cepeda said. “We’re learning about each other and understanding what works on an individual and team basis. The individual successes at the fall tournaments are big for our team to continue to believe in one another and realize how high we can aim as a group this year.”
The women return to the courts on Saturday for a dual match against Amherst, beginning at 1 p.m. The Ephs host ITA Regionals Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and will play at the Middlebury Invitational on Oct. 22 to round out the fall season.