Women’s Tennis Finishes Strong
A somewhat brief fall season came to an end for the Cardinals at the NEWITT (New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament), but the team members can certainly go out with their heads held high. At the beginning of the year, coach Michael Fried was facing a daunting task, as four players chose to study abroad this fall. The message from the get-go was that the fall season would be a learning experience for all involved, and that the main objective was to build towards the spring. Yet credit the team for coming out strong, with the doubles combination of Madison Hartley ’15 and Lauren Jacobs ’15 a particular standout, one that bodes very well for the future.
The two underlined their dominance this weekend with a quarter final appearance in what was a highly competitive tournament but eventually bowed out to an MIT pairing that would go on to win the tournament. Prior to this, they had made short work of doubles teams from both Brandeis (8-1) and Middlebury (8-6).
The key to their success? The chemistry between both girls was undoubtedly there from the start, but to add to this, their playing styles complement each other very well; Hartley is a force to be reckoned with at the net, and Jacobs is a supreme baseline player.
“Madison and I have continued to improve as a doubles team, and we have become more confident in our ability to win matches against the tough teams,” Jacobs said. “We are looking forward to continuing to work hard in the offseason so that we are ready to take on many of the NESCAC powerhouses in the spring season.” Based on the evidence from the fall, they have a great shot at doing so.
Jacobs also thrived in the singles at the NEWITT. Not only did she comfortably dispatch a Brandeis opponent 6-2, 6-2, but she also beat her Middlebury opponent in straight sets. This meant that no matter what happened in Hartley’s singles encounters, the pair had a guaranteed spot in the quarter finals; the tournament requires a 2-1 advantage to continue (both players do a singles match and then team up in doubles, all against the same opponent).
Other pairs in action were Genevieve Aniello ’13 and Jessica Seidman ’16, and Suzanne Gallo ’13 and Maddie James ’16. As Wesleyan’s highest-ranked players, Aniello and Seidman were the only team to compete in the A Division and unsurprisingly faced very strong opponents.
Gallo and James competed in the B division (as did Hartley and Jacobs), and though they did not come out with any wins, the experience will be nothing but beneficial for both players in their first year of college tennis. Credit should go to Gallo for her fighting spirit; she came very close to taking the second set against her Wheaton foe despite not managing to get a game on the scoreboard in the first set.
Though she was her own harshest critic during the day, Gallo did draw positives from the tournament. “I would say that as a collective, the tournament gave the team as a whole a good understanding of the work ahead for the spring season,” she said.
This statement brings us back to what is now the ultimate priority for the team: the spring season. Not only will four players return, but also the greater understanding of where the team stands following the fall will aid Fried and assistant coach Robert Troyer immensely. What is more, there is still a great deal of time between now and the next fixture against Amherst on March 9, which means there is even more time for the team to gel and improve. By the time this date rolls around, the team can be expected to be much improved. Yet let us not overlook the fact that the overall fall dual-match record was 1-1, while tournament performances were generally impressive.
“I’m encouraged by our progress and excited for the spring NESCAC season,” Fried said.