With three matches scheduled over a span of five days, the women’s tennis team seemed poised to continue improving on its already impressive start to the season. Coming off a dominating 8-1 win over 21st-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Saturday, April 8, the N0. 6 Cardinals prepared to host their Little Three Rival, No. 3 Williams, on Sunday, April 9. The Cardinals awoke to ideal weather conditions on the morning of the match, and took center stage against the Ephs on the John Wood Memorial Tennis Courts. Their goal that day was an ambitious one: upset the reigning DIII National Championship runner-ups, and record the team’s first win against the Ephs in program history.
After a lengthy round of doubles, the Cardinals found themselves heading into singles play down 2-1. Despite giving it their all, the Cardinals were once again thwarted by the Ephs, falling by a final score of 6-3. The loss marked the first of the season for the Cards, who had tallied six straight duel match wins—the best start for the program since the 2008-09 season.
“I think the team played extremely well this past weekend, against both MIT and Williams,” said captain Ella Lindholm-Uzzi ’17. “Of course we only came out on top against MIT, but both matches we competed extremely well and that’s all you can ask for in a team.”
The rather one-sided score against Williams is not indicative of the strong performance the Cards put together. At the number one singles spot, Eudice Chong ’18 came back from a set down to win the match in a third set tiebreaker, while Victoria Yu ’19 mustered one of the best performances of her career at the number two position. Taking on Juli Raventos, who lost in the DIII individual finals to Chong last season, Yu put together a virtuosic performance to take the match in a hard fought and lengthy two-set battle, 7-5, 6-2.
Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives the team was able to take away, and the Cards will no doubt relish the chance to get another crack at the Ephs come the NESCAC Tournament.
“Williams is an extremely good team, there’s no doubt about it,” Lindholm-Uzzi said. “On every court they are mentally tough and just make balls. I think we overestimated their ability to overpower us off the court. That did not happen in the slightest and that is huge for the next time we play them. We have to know we can compete with them, and just work on mental toughness in every point.”
Following the loss, the Cardinals had a few days to regroup before taking on in-state and NESCAC rival Trinity on Wednesday, April 12. Although the Red and Black had dominated the Bantams in recent years and were eager to get back to their winning ways, the Cardinals knew not to underestimate their opponent.
“In terms of Trinity, the team needs to focus on and just play our games,” Lindholm-Uzzi said a few days prior to the match. “It should be a routine match for us, but we can’t over or underestimate their ability. We will keep working on everything we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks. It’s exciting to be playing NESCAC matches.”
The Cardinals made quick and easy work of the Bantams, cruising to an 8-1 victory. With the win, the Cardinals improved to 7-1 overall, boasting a 2-1 conference record. Ending a four-match home stand, the Cardinals will head up to Boston this weekend to take on seventh-ranked Tufts, followed by a match against the defending National Champions, currently top-ranked Emory University. The contest will take place on Sunday, April 16, also at Tufts. Last year, Wesleyan defeated the Jumbos narrowly 5-4 in what proved to be one the season’s most thrilling contests. If last season’s win over Tufts is anything to go by, both matches this weekend are bound to feature some high quality tennis.
“The team is really looking forward to the two big matches this weekend, and we’re trying to head in with no expectations,” Chong said. “Tufts will be a very close match, and it can swing either way depending on how well we perform. Going into the match with Emory, we are definitely seen as the underdogs, so we are just trying to stay loose and compete with no pressure.”