Women’s tennis sees mixed results on spring interim trip

by Chanelle Qi | 4/1/15 6:01pm

04.02.15.sports.womenstennis_Kate-Herrington
by Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Over the spring interim, the women’s tennis team traveled to California and Texas to compete in five matches with teams from across the country. The Big Green brought home two wins — against the University of California at Irvine and the University of Denver — while falling to California State University at Northridge, Long Beach State University, and the University of Houston. The women now enter conference matches with a 13-3 record and ranked No. 29 in the nation.

The teams began their first match on March 19, and Taylor Ng ’17 said difficult playing conditions and the transition to outdoor courts resulted in a rough start for the women’s team as they faced off against No. 31 Long Beach State (12-4) to begin the spring interim trip. The Big Green started the match off strong, winning the doubles point after the No. 1 team of Ng and Kristina Mathis ’18 and the No. 3 team of Akiko Okuda ’15 and Julia Schroeder ’18 brought home wins with respective scores of 8-4 and 8-6. The Big Green was unable to keep up its momentum during singles match play, however, and the women suffered four losses in straight matches to Long Beach. The lone singles win came from Schroeder, who battled through extremely close sets to finally take the match 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (11-9).

“It wasn’t the prettiest match I played in terms of how I competed, but I think I was able to pull through in very tight moments,” Schroeder said.

The match against Long Beach was the first that the Big Green has played outdoors this season, which posed difficulties for the team and contributed to the team’s first season loss.

Ng described the difficulty of transitioning to outside matches.

“Our match against Long Beach was very tough because playing outdoors is a lot more physical,” she said. “Our opponents were better adjusted to the weather. Every match was a grind, but we fought hard.”

After the initial loss, the women then faced off against then No. 66 University of Denver (8-7) in La Jolla, California. No. 2 doubles duo Alexxis Kiven ’18 and Katherine Yau ’16 were the first off the courts with a win, clinching an 8-6 victory. The Big Green followed up with a victory at the No. 3 doubles position, as the senior-freshman team of Okuda and Schroeder dominated the Denver team 8-2.

With the women entering singles match play with a 1-0 lead, No. 5 player Okuda grasped another victory in her match, ending 6-4, 6-0. The scoreboard, however, quickly became tied at 2-2 after Denver snapped up two wins in No. 2 and No. 6 singles. No. 4 Jacqueline Crawford ’17 then clinched a quick 6-1, 6-2 victory, but the score remained close as Mathis was dealt a narrow loss at No. 3 singles with a score of 7-6, 0-6, 6-3. Now tied 3-3, the critical point fell upon No. 1 player Ng. She reeled in the first set with a score of 6-3, but the second set quickly became a close contest, as Denver’s Maureen Slattery utilized tricky slice serves and a two-handed forehand against Ng.

Ng, however, was relentless in the second set against Slattery, using high and heavy spin balls against her opponents forehand to open up the court and finishing points with down-the-line shots. As a result, Ng closed out the match by winning the second set tiebreaker for a final score of 6-3, 7-6(4).

“My opponent had a tricky game, and it was one of the hardest matches I’ve ever played,” Ng said. “A lot of the challenge was mental, and I knew I had to keep playing confidently. The biggest challenge was just moving onto the next point.”

The match against Denver was an improvement from the team’s previous match with Long Beach as they became more comfortable in playing in the hot, windy California weather.

“We all played a lot better in our second match, and adjusted to how wind made the balls move slower on the court,” Crawford said. “We played own game and were mentally prepared and focused.”

The women repeated their winning performance against then No. 59 UC Irvine, as the Big Green followed up with a decisive 5-2 victory against the Anteaters. The doubles and singles matches of the day were well fought, with the Big Green quickly winning both the doubles point and the first three singles matches to cement its victory.

For its final match in California, the women competed against Northridge. The No. 1 doubles team of Crawford and Ng brought in their second victory of the season, but the Big Green ultimately lost the doubles point after dropping the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches.

The women had a solid start to singles match play, winning the first three singles matches off the courts. With the women up a set in two of the remaining singles matches, the outcome looked positive for the Big Green. The team, however, was not able to maintain its lead, and Northridge soon turned the tables by winning the next three singles matches and the overall match 4-3. Two of the three losses went to third sets, with No. 5 Schroeder’s match being especially hard fought with a score of 2-6, 6-0, 6-4.

“I was less aggressive in the last set, and I most likely let nerves get to me during the match,” Schroeder said. “We needed to bring a little more energy to the matches.”

The women’s team then traveled to Texas, where it competed against the No. 39 University of Houston.

The match got off to a rough start, as the team dropped the doubles point against Houston and entered singles with a 0-1 deficit. Although players Ng and Okuda took down their opponents at the respective No. 1 and No. 4 singles positions, Houston proved to be a strong competitor as it snagged the remaining singles matches to win overall 5-2.

“We hit good quality shots against Houston,” Schroeder said. “Even though we didn’t have a winning result, it was a huge improvement from our performance against Long Beach.”

Ng expressed enthusiasm for the rest of the season, as the Big Green is now preparing for conference competition.

“The great thing about spring break is that we play against really good teams, which prepares us for Ivy season,” Ng said. “We’re looking forward to Ivies. We’ve set some high goals, but I’m confident that we’ll achieve them.”

The women will travel to Columbia and Cornell Universities on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to kick off the spring Ivy League season.