Women’s tennis looks to defend its ECAC title at home

by Evan Morgan | 2/4/16 6:00pm

This weekend, women’s tennis is coming to Dartmouth as the Big Green hosts the ECAC Winter Championships.

Coming off a 4-1 win over the University of San Francisco on Jan. 24, the No. 32 women’s team enters the seven-team tournament with the No. 1 seed and a first round bye.

After winning this tournament in 2015 at Cornell University, the No. 32 ranked Big Green now get to defend the title on their home court.

“It’s really really special for us,” Jacqueline Crawford ’17 said of the home-court advantage. “We get the opportunity [to host] once out of seven or eight years, so being able to defend our title at home is really cool.”

Taylor Ng ’17, last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, also emphasized the importance of playing at home.

“It’s just nice to be around our community,” Ng said. “It means a lot to be able to share in the experience with everyone who’s supporting us.”

After taking a break from competition for the winter interim, the team hopes to keep its focus for this weekend’s event, the team’s second tournament thus far in the dual match portion of the 2015-2016 season.

Last weekend at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Big Green triumphed over the Dons but fell to No. 23 University of Kentucky.

“We really have to be prepared physically and mentally from the start, because things happen very quickly and especially in a tournament where you have a clinch-clinch format, you can’t let your foot off the gas,” Ng said.

Head coach Bob Dallis highlighted the need to find footing early, saying that the team needs to concentrate on “playing well in doubles and getting off to a good start.”

“When you’re done with doubles, being up 1-0 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s important,” Dallis said.

Crawford has been focusing on doubles in practice for this reason.

“If you can start off a point ahead going into the singles it just feels that much better,” Crawford said. “It feels like a little victory and gives you a little bit more confidence.”

Even though the Big Green won the tournament last year, the players downplayed any pressure to perform.

“What we work on as a team and what we work on as individuals is really just being in the present, not thinking about anything that happened in the past, not thinking about anything outside of what we’re doing in the present moment, and I think that really does relieve some of the pressure,” Ng said.

After its bye, the Big Green will play the winner of fifth-seeded Yale University and fourth-seeded Columbia University, a match which Crawford and Ng say the team will follow closely.

“Yale has a lot of cohesion, a lot of fire, and that’s really going to be a challenge,” Ng said. “Columbia too comes with a very deep lineup and a lot of talent, so that’s definitely going to be a good match to watch, and we’ll be watching too, because whoever comes out will be our target.”

The remaining four teams at the Winter Championships are Princeton University, Brown University, Harvard University and Cornell. The tournament will be held from Feb. 5 to 7 at the Boss Tennis Center.