The women’s tennis team suffered a blowout defeat at home to Tufts this past Wednesday, falling 9-0. The loss leaves Wesleyan with a 2-3 NESCAC record, and a 4-6 overall record. The rout was also the Cardinals first home loss of the spring. The singles matches were especially one-sided, as Anna Howard ’15 was the only Redbird who was able to win a set and force a tiebreaker.
Although this year’s squad has had a losing record so far this year, this defeat was uncharacteristic and the first one in which not a single player came out with a win.
Yet despite the unbalanced scoring, there were still exciting moments throughout the match, particularly the doubles match featuring Captain Nicki Softness ’14 and Maddie James ’16.
After falling behind 4-7, Softness took charge of the match with some impressive volleys and, with the help of James, brought the score to 6-7. Heading into the 14th game, Tufts assumed service, but the position gave the team little advantage: the Tufts team committed two consecutive double faults that would tie the match at seven games apiece.
Momentum was on Wesleyan’s side, but the Cards were unable to capitalize on it as they dropped a critical 15th game. Backs against the wall, Softness and James could not afford to lose the decisive 16th game. However, four unforced errors caught up with the pair. The first three points conceded to Tufts were due to balls flying too low and getting caught in the netting. The final grievous error was a ball that barely missed its mark, sailing just past the back right corner of the court. The final score of the match was 7-9. Even after the match, Softness did not let the loss get to her. She did what so many players on this year’s team do: she appreciated the moment and her teammates.
“While it was obviously disappointing that we lost, it was still really, really fun to play,” Softness said. “When Maddie [James] and I play together, we’re definitely better as a team than we are individually. It was fun to come back with everyone watching and cheering. No one had any expectations that we we were going to sweep the match at all, so it was purely an opportunity to play.”
Though in the past Tufts has been the winning side when facing the Redbirds, windy weather conditions certainly didn’t help the level of play of either side. As balls flew chaotically in mid-air, each side’s level of adaption to the elements played a crucial role. Tufts emerged as the team that was best able to acclimate itself to the wind, which certainly aided its cause.
“The weather is the weather; it’s uncontrollable,” Softness said. “A lot of it is about which team is able to adapt better….In the last two [doubles] games, [Tufts] really capitalized on it well. They made a lot of deep lobs that the wind carried, and it worked in their favor.”
Once again, the loss represented Wesleyan’s inability to connect two NESCAC victories. This weekend, the team will look to avoid its first pair of consecutive conference losses. In order to avoid falling to 2-4, the Cardinals will have to beat a Middlebury team that has given the team problems in the past.
Wesleyan’s squad will have to accomplish a feat that hasn’t been done since the sprin Law ‘14 Leads Wes Nine to Win g of 2009: win a match over the Panthers. For the past five years, the Cardinals have been unable to win either a singles or a doubles match when facing the Panthers. This year’s contest will take place in Middletown on Saturday, April 12 at 12 p.m.