Men's and women's tennis teams show promise this season

by Max Zhuang | 2/6/17 2:10am

Both the Dartmouth men and women’s tennis teams look to build on good starts and improve as the season continues. The men’s team experienced ups and downs after stumbling to an early record of 2-4, struggling at times in the face of high pressure situations. On the other hand, the women’s team currently boasts a 5-0 record, a hot start that the women hope to extend.

“So far we’ve played [four] matches, and we’ve pulled out all [four],” said women’s tennis co-captain Jacqueline Crawford ’17, prior to the Big Green’s 5-2 victory over Washington State University on Sunday to clinch the Courtside Classic. “The last of which [against the University of Minnesota] was a tough 4-3 match tied at 3-3 all.”

Crawford explained that as the season progresses, not only do the players have the opportunity to improve and grow in these high pressure situations but also garner the experience necessary to handle greater opponents and challenges.

Despite having four freshmen on a 10-to-11 person team, Crawford said the new members are adjusting well.

“It’s very good for our own team,” Crawford said. “Even better, their enthusiasm and teamwork work in our advantage.”

While the women’s tennis team has had a youthful injection of passion for the game, it will continue to be tested. Furthermore, the team will depend on the freshmen to build upon their current success.

Contrasting the women’s strong start, the men’s team looks to better polish and finish off its matches. With the foundation of talent and experience already there, the men’s team must succeed when college tennis is at its fastest pace. In addition to deuces, the team aims at improving execution in stressful moments. Recently, the team dropped a close 4-3 match to the University of Iowa on Sunday.

“We’ve played some pretty good teams to start the season since the schedule is very challenging,” men’s tennis captain George Wall ’17 said. “We’ve been tested already playing against teams in the top 40 so we need to get that extra 10 percent to beat some of the really quality teams. We need to believe and be confident as well as play smart, tough tennis.”

Members of both teams believe that their success translates directly from how they practice, which includes a combination of hard work and belief in one’s capabilities.

“Getting used to those tight situations comes from practice — having that experience and just really getting to know yourself in those tough sports,” Eddie Grabill ’19 said. “It’s about trusting myself more and trusting my game more, that’s the biggest thing. Keep focusing on the big matches.”

Crawford echoed a similar sentiment, emphasizing the importance of simulating stressful situations in practice.

“Three-setters are something we always like to emphasize and practice at as much as possible.” Crawford said. “It’s kind of impossible to practice in real matches and our success can be attributed to all the work that we do to simulate match types situations.”

The women’s team has had a string of very strong, clutch performances. This is reflected in its 8-2 record in 3-setters thus far. According to Crawford, doubles is an area of improvement as those points can set a tone for an entire match. However, thus far, despite losing some doubles matches, the women’s team has been consistently able to come back and win its singles matches.

“This year feels honestly very distinct from my previous years on the team,” Crawford said. “It’s been great and really satisfying to see how our practices are translating to matches and how we’ve been able to work as a team. Individually, it’s a lot more fun to start playing dual matches that start in the winter, so I have a lot more fun with the winter season starting.”

As for Wall and the men’s team, the start to the season has been tough. However, the men need to get tougher if they expect to win their upcoming matches during Winter Carnival against No. 23 Texas Christian University and No. 22 Southern Methodist University. If the team can secure victories, the two high profile wins may provide the much needed momentum for the men’s team to win the Ivy League after finishing in second place for the past two years.

“We have two home matches against two top [25] teams, and it’s really exciting that they can make the trip to play us, and I think we can win them both,” Wall said. “We want to win the Ivies and get into the NCAA tournament and maybe take it one step further.”