After a solid fall season that featured decisive wins over the University of Hartford and St. Lawrence University, the women’s tennis team has been busy gearing up for the spring season. This past Tuesday, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced that Wesleyan was the 13th ranked team in the Northeast, the same position they held during the fall season.
Conference foes Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin, and Middlebury are ranked in the top-four spots, respectively. Tufts and Trinity were awarded the seventh and ninth spots, putting Wesleyan in seventh for the pre-season NESCAC rankings. If the team can improve on a 6-8 record overall and 4-5 mark in the NESCAC, they will have a prime opportunity to qualify for postseason play.
“I am incredibly excited about the spring season!” said Captain Anna Howard ’15. “Everyone has been working extremely hard, and I believe that this will show in our upcoming matches.”
Head Coach Mike Fried, who runs the women’s tennis program, had high praise for his players’ hard work and determination during the offseason.
“They’ve maintained a rigorous on and off-court training program through the winter off-season and have been training with a purpose leading into the season,” said Fried of his team.
The team will head to California for the first week of spring break to train and kick off the season. The Cards’ first matchup will be against NESCAC competitor Bowdoin, ranked sixth in Division III (DIII), on Tuesday, March 10. Bowdoin has had the better of the Cardinals in the past, holding an all-time record of 9-1 against Wesleyan. Wesleyan’s only conquest of the Polar Bears came a long while back, a 5-4 outcome in 2000.
“I believe we have the chance to prove ourselves as a tough competitor in the NESCAC this year,” Howard said.
Women’s Tennis will also face Chapman University (31st) and Redlands (19th) during its week in California, and the squad is ready to take on the challenge of playing these top DIII teams.
The Cards will be back on campus for the second week of spring break to play 25th-ranked Brandeis at home on Friday, March 20 at 4 p.m. before the remainder of the student body returns to campus. This will be the first matchup between the two schools and should be a close contest.
Overall, the team has a tough season up ahead, but if the fall season was any indication, the Cardinal faithful should expect the Birds to soar over their competitors.
“With the vast majority of our spring matches being against top ranked teams, all of them are important,” Fried said.
After recruiting what has been collectively ranked as the number-three Division III recruiting class in the country, Fried is looking forward to a strong team performance this season.
“[There are] five freshmen comprising more than half the team, and [they] are all poised to make significant contributions,” Fried said. “If we can successfully blend upper-class leadership with freshman talent, we’re poised to make our presence felt on the national level.”
The first-year players—Aashli Budhiraja ’18, Eudice Chong ’18, Dasha Dubinsky ’18, Helen Klass-Warch ’18, and Nicole McCann ’18—will be an exciting group to watch as they take on their first spring season of intercollegiate tennis.
Fried also has some very specific hopes for this year.
“Our goals are to solidify a culture of tremendous support and camaraderie, and to find a way to compete at our highest level every time we step on the court,” Fried said.
Howard’s thoughts on the season match her coach’s.
“I believe that if we continue to train hard and play to the best of our ability as a team like we are doing now, we will have a very successful season,” Howard said.
The Cards will play against Conn. College at home on Saturday, April 4 at 2 p.m.. It’s sure to be an exciting match: their all-time record against the Camels is 21-19, including wins in three consecutive seasons, two of which were 9-0 decisions. The Cardinals top-two singles players from that match, Clare DuBrin ’15 and Grace Smith ’14 are no longer with the team. That being said, the five first-years took up the top-five singles spots in the fall matches, so it should be a promising, season for the team.