Women's tennis splits Ivy matches

by Kelly Hanen | 4/10/12 10:00pm

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The women's tennis team opened Ivy League play with a 4-3 loss to Columbia University before earning a back-and-forth win over Cornell University.
by Anna Davies and Anna Davies / The Dartmouth

In the Columbia match, Dartmouth secured the doubles point by sweeping three closely contested matches. Jeri Reichel '13 and Theresa Smith '15 started off doubles competition with a 9-8 win over their Lions opponents.

At the No. 2 spot, Janet Liu '15 and Rachel Decker-Sadowski '14 clinched the doubles point with a 9-7 win. Akiko Okuda '15 and co-captain Sarah Leonard '13 won in the No. 1 spot, 13-11, to round out the doubles portion of the contest.

"After the doubles [matches], all the girls were very excited," co-captain Shelley Carpeni '12 said. "We have been working so hard on improving our doubles this year that it definitely brought good energy going into the singles."

In singles competition, both Liu and Smith recorded wins for the Big Green. In the No. 5 match, Smith bested her opponent, Columbia junior Katarina Kovacevic, 6-1, 6-2. Liu came back from a first-set loss to win, 3-6, 7-6, 6-1, at the No. 4 spot. After returning to the court for the first time in almost four months, Melissa Matsuoka '14 played a close three-set match before eventually falling to her Columbia opponent Iani Alecsiu.

"Obviously it was a little disappointing, especially to lose the opening Ivy match, but it's one of seven, so after the loss we had our normal post-match discussion and really focused on coming back the next day and fighting hard to be in a position to beat Cornell," Carpeni said.

At the first and second spots, Leonard and Okuda both lost in straight sets against their Columbia counterparts, allowing the Lions to escape with a 4-3 overall victory.

The Big Green rebounded from Friday's loss, defeating the Big Red in an exciting 4-3 win the next day.

"Obviously we were hoping to win both of them, but it was definitely good for the girls to bounce back from Friday's tough loss and perform the way they did on Saturday," Carpeni said.

After sweeping the doubles competition the day before, the Big Green dropped the doubles point on Saturday, with the sole win coming from Reichel and Smith at the No. 3 spot.

"Losing the doubles point against Cornell was a wake-up call that we needed to come out strong in singles," Leonard said. "We focused our energy on playing smart tennis and supporting each other across the courts."

The Dartmouth women quickly turned things around in singles play. Decker-Sadowski started the team off with a quick, 6-1, 6-2 win at the No. 6 spot. Sabrina Stewart '14 followed suit and scored a 6-2, 6-2 win at the No. 5 spot.

While Dartmouth notched two wins to start the singles competition, the Big Red came back to defeat Okuda and Liu, regaining the lead at 3-2. Down by one, the Big Green secured the match with wins from Leonard and Smith within minutes of each other.

"The end of our Cornell match was very exciting," Leonard said. "We were down 3-2 in the overall team score, but both Theresa and I had strong leads in our singles matches. Theresa won her match to tie the team score at 3-3 right as I earned a match point on my court, and I won my match very soon after that. It was really exciting to see how our team went from being down in the overall team score to winning the match in a matter of minutes."

The two weekend matches were good measuring sticks to see where the team currently sits and on what they need to continue working, according to Leonard.

"This weekend was a good test of our mental strength and competitive spirit," Leonard said. "It hurt to lose to Columbia, but we had the chance to end the weekend on a positive note, and we seized that opportunity. We will continue to work on playing smart tennis, believing in ourselves and enjoying the process of competing rather than just focusing on the outcome."

The Dartmouth women will return to action next weekend when they travel to Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania for two key Ivy League road contests.

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