Women's tennis team ranked 20 in intercollegiate tennis association
In the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national rankings released on Feb. 21, the women’s tennis team was ranked 20th in the nation, the second highest ranking it has ever achieved. As of the most recent Feb. 28 rankings, the team has since slipped three spots to No. 23. After the women’s team ended the 2012-13 season with a losing record and without an ITA ranking, the team has since gone on a three-year streak of ranking within the top 50 of the ITA.
During the 2014-15 season, the team reached its highest rank of No. 18 in March 2015. The team got off to a blazing 11-0 start, winning the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championship before ending the season ranked No. 31 off a 19-6 overall record and a 5-2 Ivy League record. Princeton University, who won the Ivy League title that season, finished with a No. 42 ranking.
When asked about the reason for the team’s success during the 2014-2015 season, Kristina Mathis ’18, a freshman at the time, noted the strong chemistry of the team.
“Our group dynamics were really good, and everyone was playing really well,” Mathis said.
However, the women’s team did not find as much success last season, ending with a 13-6 overall record and a 4-3 Ivy League record. At the end of the 2015-2016 season, Dartmouth achieved a final rank of 45. Both then No. 41 Princeton University and No. 37 Columbia University occupied higher positions than Dartmouth.
When asked about the drop in performance during the 2015-2016 season, Mathis noted the natural fluctuations and variance from season-to-season.
“Tennis is a sport where you can’t just play well all the time,” Mathis said. “You have your ups and downs. Last year we had successes, just not as much.”
The women’s tennis team experienced several disappointing seasons preceding its successful run from 2014-2015. Since only the top 75 teams nationally are given a ranking, the women’s tennis team failed to achieve a ranking from the ITA at the end of the 2012-2013 after tying for last in the Ivy League with Brown University off a 1-6 conference record. The women fared a little better during the 2013-2014 season, finishing with a No. 48 ranking and achieving a 7-10 overall record and a 4-3 conference record.
A major factor for the Big Green’s recent success has been the addition of several strong classes of freshman. Between the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, the tennis team added players such as Lexxi Kiven ’18, Mathis and Julia Schroeder ’18. Kiven finished her freshman season with a 3-1 record in singles and 16-10 record in doubles. Mathis finished her first season 14-6 in singles and 13-6 in doubles. Schroeder also had positive results, going 23-12 in singles and 14-10 in doubles.
This season, the women’s tennis team is the only Ivy League team ranked in the top 50 nationally as of the latest rankings update on Feb. 28. With a current record of 9-1, the women’s team appears set to maintain its rankings dominance over its Ivy League rivals. The only loss the team suffered this season was a 6-1 upset by now-No. 49 College of William and Mary. The current women’s tennis roster includes four freshmen, each of whom ranked nationally within the top 100 before playing for Dartmouth.
Although rankings can be indicative of performance, they aren’t the primary focus of the team.
“We try not to focus on rankings,” Mathis said. “We try to focus on our performance.”
Additionally, rankings do not entirely reflect the strength of a team.
“All the Ivy League teams are very strong, and the rankings don’t necessarily reflect that,” Kiven said. “You can lose to anyone on a given day.”