Ahmed and McNally blaze into quarterfinals
The outstanding doubles play of co-captains Jayme Ahmed '05 and Sarah McNally '05 led the Big Green at last weekend's Wilson/ITA Eastern Regional Tennis Championships in Philadelphia, Penn. The super seniors advanced to the quarterfinals of the elite draw, knocking off a pair of seeded teams on the way.
The Dartmouth pairing began the event in top form by obliterating its opponents from George Mason 8-0 to set up a match with the third-seeded team from Virginia Tech. The Hokies' team of J.J. Larson and Felicia Lam posed an imposing challenge for the Big Green, particularly considering that Lam reached the doubles final in this same event last year. Nonetheless, Ahmed and McNally squeaked out the upset victory, advancing to the next round with a 9-8 (4) triumph.
Next on the docket for the Dartmouth duo was a tandem from rival Harvard -- Susanna Lingman and Stephanie Schnitter -- who held the No. 9 seed in the event. Additionally, Lingman entered the weekend ranked No. 77 in the country. For the second consecutive contest, the match stayed close throughout. With the score knotted at seven games apiece, Ahmed and McNally managed to break Lingman's serve in a lengthy game.
The match then was on McNally's racquet, as the feisty Floridian had the chance to win the match by holding serve. She produced her best service game of the match at the most important time to pull the Green closer to victory. While the tension mounted even more after a first-serve fault on match point, McNally and Ahmed pulled through to close out the contest by the score of 9-7.
With the win, the Big Green entered the lone unseeded entry in the quarterfinals. However, the sixth-seeded team from Virginia Commonwealth University -- located in Richmond, Va. -- eliminated Ahmed and McNally 8-1.
In singles action, Ahmed and Margaret Fitchet '08 performed well against similarly tough competition. After earning a bye in the first round, Ahmed pounded Marshall's Danielle Hoch in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. The Montague marauder then fell victim to an unlucky draw in the third round as the tournament's top seed Ramona But, who currently holds the No. 22 ranking in the nation, staved off a spirited effort from Ahmed to win 6-3, 6-2.
Fitchet also notched a main-draw win for Dartmouth, toppling St. John's Barbara Blahckiakova 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. The talented first-year relied again on her unflappable baseline game and smart play to pull out the three-set victory. In the next round, another Maryland player ousted a Big Green competitor, as No. 17 seed Marianne Baker edged Fitchet 7-5, 6-4.
"The best part about the weekend was proving to ourselves that we can compete with highly-ranked players," Ahmed said. "Our confidence level as a team now is an important factor in our level of play for future matches."
The entire team will return to action this weekend at the Big Green Invitational, taking place in Boss Tennis Center.