Big Green hangs tough against stingy competition

by Mark Sweeney | 10/15/04 5:00am

The Dartmouth women's tennis squad traveled to the National Tennis Center in New York City to face off against teams from all around the country in the Women's College Tennis Invitational. Over the course of the Columbus Day weekend event, the Big Green collected a number of impressive victories against top competition.

Leading the lady racketeers again was co-captain Jayme Ahmed '05, who made a splash in the A singles flight by pummeling the tournament's fifth seed, Harvard's Eva Wang, with a score of 6-1, 6-1. In the next round, Ahmed matched up with Maryori Franco from the University of Arkansas, who in 2003 was the top-ranked junior player in the country of Columbia, the No. 4 junior competitor in all of South America, and the 58th-ranked junior in the world.

Despite these lofty credentials, the Big Green's top player came within two points of pulling out the win, as Franco edged Ahmed 5-7, 6-2, 10-8 in a third set superbreaker. Franco went on to beat the tournament's top seed in the next round. Ahmed bounced back to win her consolation draw contest against South Carolina's Laura Granzer in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.

In the B singles draw, a pair of fantastic first-years each claimed a pair of wins. Margaret Fitchet '08 dropped her first round match to the third seed, but showed her mettle by claiming victory in her two back draw contests. Fitchet first toppled Arkansas's Yawna Allen 6-2, 6-2 to earn a rematch with Brown's Alex Arlak, who had edged Fitchet just a week prior. The Big Green freshman gained sweet revenge against her Ivy foe by notching a 6-4, 6-1 win.

Also playing well in the B flight was Maggie Suydam '08. The Massachusetts native advanced to the second round behind the strength of a straight sets triumph, but then fell in a hard-fought three set encounter with Boston University's Gina Sabatino. In her third and final match, Suydam again showed a flair for the dramatic, besting Texas A&M's Tiffany Clifford by the score of 6-1, 2-6, 13-11.

In the C flight, Kerry Snow '07 and her New Balance shoes picked up a solid win over a league rival in the first round, eliminating Aimee Kim of Yale 6-4, 2-6, 10-8. Snow then nearly sprung a major upset in the next round against the tournament's No. 1 seed, as the super sophomore fell in a close match to Kentucky's Lara Maurer 6-4, 6-4.

Megan Zebroski '08 faced off against a former junior opponent in the D flight, and the New York native convincingly dropped Caitlin Arnould of Boston College by the count of 6-0, 6-3. Unfortunately, a foot injury precluded Zebroski from continuing further in the tournament.

Dartmouth's success continued in doubles play. Paired together in the A doubles flight, Ahmed and Zebroski nearly ousted the second-seeded duo from Tennessee despite facing multiple seemingly insurmountable obstacles. First, Zebroski was severely hampered by her injured foot, and secondly, the Dartmouth pair lost a number of critical points due to questionable calls on the part of their opponents. The Big Green pair eventually succumbed 9-7.

In the B doubles tournament, Suydam and Fitchet collected two victories, both coming over teams from Ancient Eight schools. In the same draw, Snow and co-captain Sarah McNally '05 both overcame off-court issues to pick up an 8-6 win over a team from Penn State. McNally had recently endured a confrontation with a pugnacious pole on the National Tennis Center grounds, while Snow had to deal with the recent incarceration of her professional and spiritual guide, Martha Stewart. Nevertheless, the pair managed to put it all together to pick up the win over the Nittany Lions.

The tandem of Evie Stevens '05 and Catja Carrell '08 stormed all the way to the semifinals in the C flight by defeating teams from Brown and Army. In the match against Brown, the Big Green pairing erased a 5-0 deficit by winning seven consecutive games, eventually triumphing by the final count of 8-6. The senior-freshman pair regrettably saw their impressive run end at the hands of a Columbia team in the semifinal round.

"We finished the weekend knowing that we could compete with every other team in the draw," Ahmed said. "It's great seeing how much we improve every week and anticipating how much we can accomplish before this season is over."

In addition to notching several strong performances against players from nationally renowned programs, the Big Green recorded a 6-3 mark against Ivy League foes on the weekend. Also, every Dartmouth player attained at least one victory during the event.

The team gets this weekend off before venturing to Philadelphia Oct. 22 to compete in the ITA Northeast Regional Championship.

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