The Dartmouth women's tennis team took to the courts this weekend in preseason action at the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I. During the round robin that began Saturday and ended Sunday, the ladies in green battled Rutgers, Boston University and the host Bears, enjoying mixed results in singles, while dropping all nine of their doubles matches.
Although the team struggled to consistently pick up victories over the weekend, co-captain Katie Jaxheimer '06 was generally satisfied with the progress the squad demonstrated at a time when several newcomers are given the opportunity to compete.
"Our team has significantly improved since the start of preseason, and we kept that up throughout the entire weekend," she said. "Although we didn't have the results we would have liked in doubles, we were able to work on our fundamentals and were returning and closing the net much better as the matches progressed."
Jaxheimer came a third-set tiebreaker away from a perfect weekend, sandwiching a 1-6, 6-1, 6-7(2) loss to Brown's Sara Mansur between straight-set victories over Laura Steikema of Boston University (6-0, 6-1) and Alina Balasa of Rutgers (6-3, 6-1).
Megan Zebroski '08 also flourished on the weekend, defeating Brown's top player, Amanda Saiontz in comeback fashion. After a 2-6 first set loss, Zebroski stormed back, cruising to 6-2 victories in both the second and third sets.
The victories by Jaxheimer and Zebroski were the only ones the Big Green could muster in 14 singles matches against Brown and BU Saturday afternoon. In five Sunday matches against Rutgers players and one against a Brown opponent, however, Dartmouth ended the weekend strongly. Jaxheimer, Catja Carrell '08 and identical twin sisters Danielle Murray '09 and Jen Murray '09 all prevailed in their respective matches.
In the hidden duals format of the Invitational, seven players from competing teams match up against each other as they would in the regular season, but the results only count towards individual records. According to captain Katie Jaxheimer, the format is especially valuable for the team's newcomers, providing them valuable experience and an early exposure to the feel of regular season contests.
"It's great especially for our freshman because it gives them a sense of what it is like to play next to other Dartmouth players and to cheer each other on," she said.
After a successful 2004-2005 campaign in which the team was ranked as high as no. 63 in the nation, the Big Green players have high hopes for the upcoming season that begins during the winter. Jaxheimer is pleased with the strides the team has made both on and off the tennis courts so far this preseason.
"Our team is practicing extremely hard and we are continuously improving our match play," Jaxheimer said. "Most importantly, though, we are having a lot of fun with each other and building up a strong team foundation that will certainly help us come Ivy season."
Dartmouth returns to action Saturday at the Women's College Tennis Invitational at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.