Women's tennis splits matches on spring term

by Manisha Apte | 3/27/11 10:00pm

Taking a break from the cooler conditions in Hanover, the Dartmouth women's tennis team journeyed to a more temperate California for spring break, where it split its first four matches but could not finish its fifth match due to rain.

The Big Green (8-7, 0-0 Ivy), ranked 72nd nationally, started its spring break schedule off to a promising start, blanking Bowdoin College, 7-0, and nearly repeating that result against University of California, Northridge in its 6-1 win.

Dartmouth followed up its two wins with two losses, first falling to No. 56 University of California, Irvine, 4-2, and then to No. 47 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 4-3.

"We are always looking forward to spring break every year, and especially after the long winter season indoors, it is so nice to get outdoors again," tri-captain Georgiana Smyser '11 said.

The team first traveled to Coto de Caza, Calif., to square off against Bowdoin (6-1), where all six Dartmouth singles players captured victories in straight sets, with only Rachel Decker-Sadowski '14 taking her first set to a tiebreak on the number seven court.

Meanwhile, in the three doubles matches, the Big Green succumbed in only five games, while tri-captain Molly Scott '11 and rookie Melissa Matsuoka '14 didn't drop one game in their 8-0 win.

Two days later, Dartmouth traveled to Northridge, Calif., where it soundly defeated the host team. The Matadors managed to post one singles and doubles win each but the Big Green came away with the victory due to wins from Scott, Matsuoka, Smyser, Christina Danosi '13 and tri-captain Ryan Reichel '11.

Smyser, Scott and Reichel all contributed to Dartmouth's results, winning three of their four matches, with Smyser garnering all of her victories in straight sets. Still, her third win wasn't enough to help Dartmouth in its 4-2 loss to UC Irvine (7-9).

Smyser noted that while the Big Green is returning to outdoor hard courts for the first time this season, California teams have had more practice with weather factors, as they do not play any games indoors.

"It's not easy to perform outdoors, figuring in the sun and wind, and we also had a lot of rain which made things touch-and-go for a couple of matches," Smyser said. "Everyone really stepped up their game though and got used to the weather conditions."

The Big Green's only other victory against the Anteaters came from Sarah Leonard '13 in three sets, with a final score of 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. While many of Dartmouth's losses came from three-set clinchers, Smyser said that many of the matches were very tight and that the outcome could have easily been reversed.

The final score was short one point, as the remaining doubles matches were cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

The Big Green ended its trip with a narrow loss to Cal Poly (12-3), where it found trouble in capturing any doubles victories, as pair Reichel and Smyser came the closest in a tough battle that ended in a 10-8 tiebreak loss.

Dartmouth's spring break matches mark an annual trip in which the women travel to California to take on West Coast competition, as well as other teams that travel there for spring break. The location not only provides the Big Green with new teams to play, but is also home to Scott, Mastuoka and Decker-Sadowski, which provides the team with some parental support in the stands, Smyser said.

"We stayed at our house at the beginning of the trip," Scott said. "It was nice to be home and still have support when we were 3,000 miles away from Hanover."

Last year, the Big Green went 3-1 in California, while also reaching its highest rank of the season at 38. Dartmouth subsequently followed up its trip with four straight victories, contributing to its cumulative 9-5 spring season record.

After returning from this year's spring break trip, the Big Green has high hopes for its Ivy League season.

"We would like to win the [League], but a better goal is to compete as well as we know we can, and to go out and do what we have practiced so long to do," Scott said.

Dartmouth is set to first take on Columbia University, which also traveled to California but found less success, as it lost three of its four matches, including a match against the Matadors.

Despite already beating Columbia (8-6, 0-0 Ivy), 4-2, in the ECAC Winter Championship earlier this season, Dartmouth is not taking anything for granted.

"We recognize that everyone is working hard, and that the League season is a whole different game where the stakes are higher," Smyser said.

The Big Green will play its League opener on Friday, April 1, at 2 p.m. in New York City.

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