The women’s tennis team played Williams in its opening match of the fall season on Saturday, Sept. 21. Despite a spirited effort, Wesleyan was shut out on all matches, falling 0-9 to the defending NCAA Division III champions.
Captain Grace Smith ’14 and Clare DuBrin ’15 paired up for the first doubles match, which they dropped 2-8. Smith lost 1-6, 1-6 in the second-seed singles match, while DuBrin failed to win any games as the top-seeded singles player.
In other matches, Captain Kiley Robbins ’14 partnered with Olivia Koh ’17 for second doubles, and Captain Nicki Softness ’14 teamed up with Cameron Arkin ’17 for third doubles. Robbins and Koh proved to be the most competitive partnership against the Ephs, losing out 5-8, whereas Softness and Arkin lost 3-8. In their respective singles matches, third-seeded Koh lost 1-6, 4-6, while Robbins was also held without a game as the fourth seed. Both Softness and Arkin only managed to win one game each as the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively.
When asked about the difficulty of playing against Williams, Koh smiled and explained that her loss was motivation to train harder and play even better.
“With more practice, we can definitively give them a run for their money,” Koh said.
Robbins and Koh were neck and neck with Williams in the second doubles. Koh guarded the baseline while Robbins played up front. The Cardinals managed to catch up to the Ephs halfway through the set, fighting back to roughly draw level. Unfortunately, the Cards could not close the set, dropping crucial points near the end.
“We played well as a team,” Robbins said. “We were just outgunned overall by some of the best in the country.”
Robbins described feeling generally satisfied with the result due to the effort put in by the players and the team. While the Cards lost their first match of the season, she looks forward to upcoming matches and remains optimistic; she expressed that the team has definitely improved from last year.
“A loss is only disappointing when you walk off the courts knowing you could have done something different mentally and physically, but every girl seemed to be proud of how they played, and that’s all that we can ask for so early in the season,” Smith said. “Beating Williams might be difficult even on our best day, but being able to uphold the mental and physical toughness we demonstrated on Saturday will be the deciding factor when we’re in a neck and neck match against teams like Trinity and Bates.”
DuBrin and Smith will be back at Williams on Friday, Sept. 27, representing Wesleyan in the ITA Tournament.
“The whole team doesn’t go because only a few players from each team get draws, so it’s more of an individual tournament,” Smith explained. “Clare and I will be going up Thursday night, and the tournament starts Friday and continues on into Sunday, depending on how many matches we win. We’ll be playing both singles and doubles.”
Like her fellow captain, Smith is unconcerned with this tough start and is adamant her team will be successful in upcoming matches.
“The season so far has been extremely focused on developing mental preparedness and confidence going into matches because that is necessary to optimize our physical performance,” Smith said. “Our match against Williams showed great improvements on that front, so I’m extremely optimistic about that translating into wins this season.”