Ng ’17 and Mathis ’18 finish as the No. 21 women's doubles team
After starting the weekend ranked fifth in the Ivy League, the women’s tennis team rallied to defeat Harvard University 5-2, improving its league ranking to a second place tie with Columbia University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. The team finished the 2016 regular season with a record of 13-6 and 4-3 in the Ivy League.
As the team wraps up its season, it is impossible to overlook the indomitable duo of Taylor Ng ’17 and Kristina Mathis ’18. The pair made the rankings every week since the start of the season in January and finished at No. 21 in the country.
“They complement each other well, and are consistently aggressive,” head coach Bob Dallis said of the two’s performance. “They work hard, they take a lot of pride in how they play doubles, and they are always looking to get better, so I’m certainly not surprised at all by their success.”
Mathis and Ng first began playing together in January 2015. Less than a year later they went on to win the Intercollegiate Tennis Associations Regional Championship doubles title, which marked the first time a Big Green pair had ever claimed the title.
Ng echoed Dallis, stating that her and Mathis’s play includes an element of chemistry and complementary strengths and weaknesses.
“Even just looking at some of the other teams we’ve played you can kind of get the picture that they’re either both good at the net and neither is very strong at the baseline, or that they’re really strong singles players, but don’t have much chemistry in doubles,” Ng said.
Mathis’s baseline game coupled with Ng’s net play has proven to be a deadly combination on the courts. However, the two players highlighted their focus on looking to improve further as players and as a doubles team. The two have been working on the weaker parts of their respective games, Ng said, pushing them forward as a pair.
It’s clear to see that this duo’s chemistry transcends off the courts, another element of their success.
“We’ve gotten to really know each other,” Mathis said. “I think that last fall, at the ITA Championships, was the point where we really got close, really got to know each other on a deeper level — on and off the court — which I think has helped our game even more because we understand each other more know. Once you’ve played with someone for while you just begin to understand their play and every move.”
The two also highlighted how they make sure to play off of each other and to balance each other on the courts.
“When I get stressed or nervous I have my own coping mechanism, but my energy will get very low, but Kristina can identify that very quickly and help me refocus,” Ng said. “So we help keep each other on the same level and ready to play, both physically and mentally.”
The two emphasized the importance of remembering who they play for as student-athletes at Dartmouth and playing their best, no matter the outcome.
“There are a lot of unique opportunities that we’ve had together, and I think it’s just recognizing how much of a privilege it is to get to play, to play together, and to play for Dartmouth,” Ng said.
As they look ahead for next season’s prospects, both Mathis and Ng expressed enthusiasm for the new additions to the team. According to tennisrecruiting.net, the team is set to add Catherine Cable ’20, Chuyang Guan ’20, Racquel Lyn ’20 and Allison McCann ’20 next season. This season, the team only added one freshman player, Allison Chuang ’19.
“I think they’ll only add to our team, and I think they’ll also add a lot to our culture [as a team] — it’s exciting,” Mathis said.
Even as the season winds down and they began to look ahead, Mathis and Ng remain focused on the NCAA tournament. While Ivy League play has come to a close, Ng and Mathis stand poised to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced in early May. Each conference that has one or more doubles teams ranked in the ITA Top 60 automatically qualify. NCAA subcommittees will apply specific criterion to determine the automatically qualifying doubles pair from those conferences with multiple doubles teams within the ITA Top 60 rankings. The remaining teams will be chosen at-large.
“The goal is take it one day at a time, one point at a time,” Mathis said in regards to the possible NCAA appearance. “We always leave it all out on the court.”