Women’s tennis seeks to improve on previous season’s effort

by Kaitlyn Lees | 2/4/19 2:15am

Motivated by some recent close defeats, the women’s tennis team comes into this season hoping to build on recent years of strong play that consistently places them as one of the best teams in the Ivy League. Last year, the team finished tied for third in the Ivy League. In 2017, following back-to-back second place finishes, the team tied for first in the Ivy League, earning the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship, where they lost in the first round to the University of Kentucky. Kristina Mathis ’18 was the unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year last year and competed in the NCAA Singles Championship. Returning sophomore Abigail Chiu ’21 earned a spot on the Ivy League first team for doubles last year also along with Julia Schroeder ’18.

Head coach Bob Dallis said that this year’s team has 10 strong players, providing the team with strong depth and the ability to play a variety of people. Dallis added that lone senior Allison Chuang ’19 has stepped up as a leader for the team this year. 

“[Chuang is] someone who’s just a really caring person and also a really good player and great contributor,” Dallis said. 

Three first-years, Nicole Conard ’22, Nina Paripovic ’22 and Jingyi Peng ’22, have also made an impact, Dallis said, “putting their stamp with their personality and their work ethic on the team.” 

Both Chuyang Guan ’20 and Paripovic spoke about a great bond between team members that contributes to their success. 

“After we finish our match, we continue to stand on our court to cheer our teammates on,” Guan said. “I think that type of support is what drives us to be successful.” 

This kind of team support has been a constant for the Big Green. Guan remarked that this was something she noticed as a recruit compared to other schools she visited, and it proved a motivating factor in her decision to come to Dartmouth. 

In the fall season, the Big Green played matches against Harvard University, Brown University, Boston University, the University of Notre Dame and Texas Tech University. Chiu and Madison Hwang ’21 also competed in doubles among the best women’s players in the country at the Riveria/ITA Women’s All-American Championship in October. From the fall season, Paripovic said, the team is looking to focus on their energy during practice, noting that when the team had “good energy and everyone was really positive leading up to matches we did well.”

Guan emphasized the impact of injuries toward the end of the season leading to just her and Paripovic being able to compete on the final day of the fall’s Big Green Invitational. She said the team is coming into the winter with the intention of optimizing their performances by taking the best care of themselves. 

“Collectively, what we’re always talking about as a team is our overall competitiveness, our overall stick-to-itiveness, our overall as a team and individuals how to deal with the adversity that may come your way within a match,” Dallis said. “The tougher that you can make that on the other team and on your personal opponent that day is sort of the difference between a team reaching its ultimate ceiling and not.” 

The team also used the fall season to experiment with the lineup and find the best position for each player. 

“Within the next few weeks, we’ll start solidifying the lineup so people can get used to playing at their position,” Paripovic said. 

Playing a challenging schedule, Dartmouth started the 2019 season with tough 6-1 losses against Boston College and the University of Iowa before bouncing back with a 7-0 win over the University of Connecticut. The team split its matches this weekend with a close 4-3 loss to Boston University followed by a 5-2 win over St. John’s University. Against both BU and Iowa, three lost singles matches went to three sets. Guan said these recent matches could have gone either way, but she feels as though “it only makes us stronger as a team.” 

The Big Green will move on to the important Eastern Conference Athletic Conference Indoor Championship next weekend in New Haven, Connecticut. Away matches against Marquette University and Michigan State University and a Mar. 2 home match against the University of Massachusetts Amherst will round out the winter season. The Big Green then travels to Texas during spring break to compete against Rice University, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University, and begins Ivy League play Mar. 30 against Harvard University.