Tennis teams travel to California

by Kelly Hanen | 3/26/12 10:00pm

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The men's tennis team swept all three matches on its spring break trip to California, raising its record to 13-1 on the season.
by Christina Chen and Christina Chen / The Dartmouth

The men's team began its California venture with a 6-0 victory over the University of California, Riverside. The Big Green swept the singles competition, all in straight sets. The threat of rain prevented the teams from competing for a doubles point.

The Dartmouth men continued their tour in Los Angeles against Loyola Marymount University, beating the Lions, 6-1. While the Big Green lost the doubles point, the team came back to sweep the singles competition.

The Big Green scored a third straight victory on the trip with a 5-2 win against San Francisco University on Friday. Dartmouth again fell 1-0 after losing the doubles point to begin the match but was able to come back with five wins in singles competition.

"Overall, it was probably the best spring trip that anyone on the team has had," captain Xander Centenari '13 said. "We went 3-0 and beat a couple of good teams, one of which we've lost to for the past couple of years, so it was great to beat them and really shows how far we've progressed over the past year."

Dartmouth also began a scheduled match against Santa Clara University, but the contest was canceled due to rain.

While the trip was successful, Centenari said he believes that there is still much room for improvement.

"We definitely need to continue working on doubles," Centenari said. "We really made it hard on ourselves. In two of the three matches we played, we lost the doubles point. Starting down one point is tough and it really made us work. At the same time, it gives us confidence to know that we can come from behind and still win."

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Big Green is currently ranked 67th in the nation. Centenari said the men will need to forget about the numbers to maintain their momentum.

"Our coach tells us to not even look at the rankings because it's not important it's just a number," Centenari said. "The best thing we can do for the next four weeks is to put all the numbers aside and just be competitive. We've put in all the work since preseason in September, and we have to just take one match at a time and compete to the best of our abilities."

On the women's side, the Big Green came away 1-2 on the trip, competing in three hard-fought matches against tough competition.

"We were exposed to high-level competition over spring break, which is great preparation for the teams we play in our upcoming season," captain Sarah Leonard '13 said.

The women began their campaign in California with a 7-0 loss to No. 38 Purdue University. Three days later, the Big Green came back to clinch a 4-3 win against California Polytechnic State University in dramatic fashion. The match lasting a total of over five hours began with a doubles point loss for the Big Green.

Despite going into singles competition down 1-0, the women fought to stay alive against the Mustangs, with every singles match going to three sets. Janet Liu '15 started off the Big Green with a win, tying up the score. Rachel Decker-Sadowski '14 and Theresa Smith '15 followed with victories within minutes of each other to bring the score to 3-1.

Cal Poly came back with two wins of its own, tying the score at three as Akiko Okuda '15 began her third set. After falling down 5-2, Okuda came back and defeated her opponent 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, clinching the victory for the Big Green.

"Akiko's match was one of the highlights of the trip," Leonard said. "We had never beaten Cal Poly before and our dual match this year was a battle, as all six singles matches went three sets. In her third set, Akiko was down 2-5, match point, yet came back to win her match and clinch the victory for the team. Akiko's poise and confidence allowed for some great tennis, and the rest of the team was really energetic and supportive as she clinched the win."

The team rounded out its trip with a 7-0 loss to California State University, Long Beach. While the team suffered two losses, Leonard believes that the trip was a positive experience for the team.

"Our spring break trip was successful on many fronts," Leonard said. "We were exposed to great competition and familiarized ourselves with playing outdoors. We also learned the strategies that worked well, as well as the areas of our game that we will need to improve on."

The women will also continue to improve on doubles play and become accustomed to playing outdoors as the season progresses, according to Leonard.

"We play indoors during our fall and winter seasons, so dealing with factors like sun and wind are not an issue until we play outside," Leonard said. "As the weather gets warmer and we play more matches outside, we will continue to work on adjusting our game to the outdoor conditions."

Both the Dartmouth men and women will be back in action this weekend. The men will play on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Boston College, while the women will take on Boston University at home at the Boss Tennis Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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