The women’s tennis team is gearing up for its fall season, aiming for its eighth consecutive winning campaign. Michael Fried is inheriting a lot of talent as the interim head coach, with only Sarah Miller ’12 and Hannah Berkman ’12 graduating from a squad that went 8-5 last season.
One possible cause for concern would be that four players will be studying abroad this fall, namely Grace Smith ’14, Kiley Robbins ’14, Nicki Softness ’14, and Kaitlyn Clark ’14. Losing such a talented group is not something that can be taken lightly when coming up against stiff NESCAC competition. Though Fried is well aware of these challenges, there is a refreshing optimism to his approach to the fall season.
“With four players abroad, it’s certainly going to be a unique and challenging fall,” Fried commented. “At the same time, we’re very excited and looking at it as a chance to gain some invaluable experience for both our three returners and our recruits.”
Interestingly, these new players will not only be coming from the freshman class. Though Maddie James ’16 and Jessica Seidman ’16 both look to be very talented additions, sophomore Hailey Sowden ’15 will also be looking to make her mark. Furthermore, Suzanne Gallo ’13 and Ashley Swan ’13 are turning their attentions toward tennis as seniors, hoping to make their experience in other sports count.
Such an influx of players will certainly give the team a new feel, but the fall slate should grant the players a perfect opportunity to find their feet.
“The less extensive match schedule in the fall also affords us the opportunity to get in some serious practice and build critical team chemistry,” Fried noted. Such chemistry will be a necessary foundation for an intense spring schedule, stocked with nine NESCAC games.
Returning senior and team captain Genevieve Aniello will likely be playing #1, while fellow returning players Lauren Jacobs ’15 and Madison Hartley ’15 will hope to build on success in previous years near the top of the order. A test for both players no doubt, but after seven consecutive winning seasons, who would bet against them rising to the challenge?
The fall season itself begins Sunday, Sept. 9 with a trip to Nichols, closely followed by the first home game on Friday, Sept. 14 against Babson on an interim basis. Couple this with four incoming freshmen expected to make an impact on the squad and one might assume the team will be searching for a new identity. Luckily, with 10 of the 11 letter-winners from last season returning, the team expects to build off a solid foundation.