On Saturday, April 29, the last day of the regular season, the women’s tennis team traveled to Bates to take on the Bobcats, to whom the Cardinals had not lost since 2011. To stay consistent with their past dominance, the Cardinals swept the Bobcats 9-0 without dropping a set across the board.
Dasha Dubinsky ’18 was particularly impressive, defeating Kate Rosenthal twice on the afternoon. She first teamed with Aashli Budhiraja ’18 and recorded a quick 8-0 doubles victory, then cruised just as easily to a 6-1 6-1 singles win over Rosenthal. Julia Kim ’20, filling in at No. 6 with Budhiraja sitting, recorded her fourth collegiate singles victory by a comfortable 6-3 6-2 margin.
“We played very solid doubles and singles against Bates, which translated well to the score,” said captain Ella Lindholm-Uzzi ’17. “We played loose and happy, knowing it was the last match of the regular season and we would soon be moving into postseason.”
With the win, the Cardinals concluded the regular season ranked seventh among DIII programs nationwide, boasting an 11-3 overall record and a NESCAC Conference record of 5-3. It is safe to say this is one of the best seasons in program history. The Cards began their season off with a hot 6-0 start, which saw them beat four ranked opponents and a DI program, Quinnipiac University. One of the best wins of the season came on Tufts’ courts in Medford, Mass., where the Cards beat the (at the time) top-ranked and defending NCAA Division III Champions, Emory University, with a score of 5-4. With the regular season coming to an end on Saturday, the Cardinals are now preparing for the NESCAC tournament with high hopes of making a deep run in the NCAA DIII tournament.
“I think the team is looking extremely strong going into the postseason,” Lindholm-Uzzi said. “We have progressively been getting better with each match and that bodes well for NESCACs and hopefully Nationals.”
This will mark the third straight year the Cards have made the NESCAC tournament but just the fourth time in the program’s history. The Cardinals look to improve on their performance last year when they posted their first ever NESCAC tournament win with a 5-1 victory over Bowdoin. With a week to prepare, the Dirty Birds’ focus will be on getting everyone as healthy as possible and maintaining shot and strategic consistency so they are playing their best tennis come Friday.
“Our focus going into NESCACs is definitely practicing strategies that we have been working on the whole season and trying to be more confident with what we have,” said captain and 2016 NCAA Division III singles champion Eudice Chong ’18. “We also have to keep in mind that, because we have been playing so many matches and haven’t really been able to take a good break, we have to keep our bodies in good shape leading up to the tournament to be able to play at our best.”
The Cards, who are set to earn the fourth seed in this weekend’s NESCAC Tournament, are likely to face the number five Bowdoin Polar Bears. The Bears of Brunswick, Maine, are currently the eighth-ranked team in the country with a 13-4 overall record and a 5-3 conference record. But the Cards and Bears have not faced each other since last season’s NESCAC tournament. The Cards’ 5-1 victory last season was only the second time in their series matchup that the Cards had beaten the Bears, the other win coming in 2000.
With Ivies, Bowdoin’s longer and more elaborate version of Spring Fling, having just been completed, the Polar Bears will have to quickly change gears from party to competition mode. But such a top-flight program is unlikely to be hindered by such distractions, and the Cardinals shouldn’t expect any sort of outside help. Needless to say, it should be a great match as the Cards look to make a deep run and win the program’s first NESCAC Championship.
“We are just trying to take it one match at a time and put it all out there,” Chong said. “We are mentally prepared to have a tough battle every match. Our team focuses a lot on the energy we have both individually and as a team during dual matches, and as long as we can keep the energy level high enough, we should be good to go.”