Women’s tennis competes at ITA New England Championship

Co-captain Juli Raventos ’18 came second in doubles with her partner, co-captain Julia Cancio ’18. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Women’s tennis (1–0) hosted the ITA New England Regional Championship last weekend, with seven Ephs competing in singles and three pairs participating in the doubles draw.

Athletes from 17 different schools took part in the tournament, which featured a singles bracket of 64 players and a doubles bracket of 32 pairs.

In the singles draw on Friday, Chloe Henderson ’20 followed a first-round victory with an upset of No. 2 seed Victoria Yu in the second round. Rachel Cross 21 locked down two wins to advance to Day Two as well. From there, co-captain Juli Raventos ’18, seeded No. 3, secured victories against Middlebury and Amherst opponents, but co-captain Julia Cancio ’18 fell to Middlebury’s Heather Boehm in the first round. Co-captain and No. 9 seed Mia Gancayco ’18 earned two wins, while Sasha Cayward ’21 was defeated in the first round. No. 6 seed Leah Bush ’19 also progressed to the third round.

In doubles, Bush and Emily Zheng ’20 fell to the top-seeded Wesleyan team of Yu and Eudice Chong. Raventos and Cancio secured wins over Tufts and Wesleyan opponents to get to Day Two, and Henderson and Cross won their matches as well.

On Saturday, Cross’ singles tournament came to an end with a loss to No. 1 seed Chong. Gancayco fell to No. 4 seed Camille Smukler of Amherst in a three-set match.

Bush advanced to the semifinals with two wins, including a tight quarterfinal victory over Middlebury’s Catherine Blayze. Bush dropped the first set 6-7 (5) but bounced back to win the next two 7-6 (3) and 11-9. Raventos also won both of her matches to set up a semifinal meeting with Chong, whom she defeated last year to win the singles tournament.

In doubles, Raventos and Cancio knocked out the No. 5 duo from Amherst and then defeated teammates Henderson and Cross by a score of 9-7 to advance to the final.

The women had two players in the singles semifinals and a team in the doubles final. Wesleyan, however, secured titles in both brackets.

The doubles finals pitted the Cardinals’ Chong and Yu against Raventos and Cancio. Chong and Yu defeated Raventos and then-partner Linda Shin ’17 in the doubles final last year.

On Sunday, Chong and Yu took the first set 6-2 and secured the championship after a tight tiebreaker in the second set.

Chong emerged victorious in the singles bracket as well. She defeated Raventos 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in the semifinals and prevailed 6-1, 6-0 in the final over Smukler, who had defeated Bush to get to the championship match.

Head coach Anik Cepeda was pleased with her team’s spirit as well as its performance. “The results are nice,” she said, “but I’m honestly most impressed with the attitude and the camaraderie. Teammates were cheering from start to finish. I almost forgot this was an individual tournament – it didn’t feel that way. Losing in the semis and finals today looks disappointing on paper, especially considering the grind of mental toughness it took to get these opportunities. However, we staged upsets, competed fiercely against some of the strongest players in Div. III tennis and have a laundry list of areas where we’d like to continue growing our games. We have fuel for the next few weeks.”

After a long weekend of tennis, the women have three weeks to prepare before the Middlebury Invitational, which will be played Oct. 21-22. The tournament will conclude the fall season.