Tennis teams, anchored by seniors, aim for strong 2020 season
The men’s tennis team is off to a solid 6-0 start this season.
Dartmouth men’s and women’s tennis both have their sights set on reclaiming the Ivy League championship after two strong starts. With two wins at home this weekend, the men’s team jumped out to a dominant 6-0 record, which includes a pair of close 4-3 wins over Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama last weekend. The women’s team sits at 2-3 with losses to undefeated Boston College as well as the College of William & Mary and Old Dominion University after starting the season with two wins at the Dartmouth Invite.
After finishing last year with a 15-9 record and an appearance in the NCAA tournament, the men’s team is under the direction of a new head coach, Xander Centenari ’13. Centenari, a former Big Green player, credited the team’s culture for its early success this season.
“Those are momentum building wins for us,” Centenari said. “They fill the guys with the belief that we can play with and beat these teams of that caliber.
It is exactly that mentality that Centenari reinforces in competition and during practice.
“We must have a deep understanding across the board of everyone’s role on the team,” Centenari said.
These roles are not limited to individual match performances but also include supporting teammates and making practices efficient and quality. One player who has stepped up and taken a leadership role is Charlie Broom ’20, who spent much of last season ranked nationally.
“He’s had a great career here,” Centenari said. “He sets the tone for the team with the work ethic he puts in everyday.”
Broom noted his role on the team and said everyone needs to play their roles if the Big Green is going to continue its recent success, including the 2017 Ivy League championship.
“Every person is vital to the team’s success this season,” Broom said. “The ethos that we had before is still very much there.”
The team lost no seniors from last season’s team and added three new freshmen.
“They’re all really athletic and can play really well,” Broom said. “There are nine or 10 that are really competing. All the way through the lineup, everyone’s got their role. We can really make a good push this year.”
Looking ahead to Ivy League play, the Big Green’s toughest competition will once again be Columbia University. Armed with one of the top singles players in all of NCAA tennis, the Lions will look to repeat last year’s Ivy League championship.
“They’re all good teams,” Broom said. “The strength of the Ivy League is evident. Every match is tough.”
The men’s team takes on the University of Minnesota and St. John’s University next weekend at the Boss Tennis Center before heading to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship in New York the following week.
The women’s team, after finishing a disappointing 4-17-1 season last year, looks to rebound back to the level it played at when it won the Ivy League championship in 2017.
“It’s always about assessing how each individual player can get a little better at what they do,” head coach Bob Dallis said. “Collectively, it is about how we can both play and practice for each other a little bit better. The way this team cares about each other and share their feelings really bodes well for the year.”
The team is led by Racquel Lyn ’20, Catherine Cable ’20, Allison McCann ’20 and Chuyang Guan ’20, a group of seniors who were around to see the team’s last title. The seniors will look to end their collegiate careers by leading the Big Green back to the Ivy League championship.
“They all bring different things to the team and really love Dartmouth,” Dallis said.
The four freshman recruits, Jennifer Gadalov ’23, Ashley Hess ’23, Chidimma Okpara ’23 and Emily Zhou ’23, will also help push the team forward this season. These players have already taken lineup spots across the board in the Big Green’s first three matches this season.
“The freshmen have done a nice job of fitting in and making a difference,” Dallis said.
Looking at the Big Green’s schedule, the team’s challenges this season will again be Columbia and Princeton University, both of which have top players returning. The mentality that Dallis encourages focuses on making little improvements during each practice and holding teammates accountable.
“The right frame of mind is when everyone is willing to practice and play for each other,” Dallis said. “On top of this, each player must be there to play and compete in a certain way and to represent Dartmouth and the team. I think we go into every year with the idea of trying to win the Ivy title and qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Both of these things are obtainable. Not easy, but attainable.”
The team will look to continue its strong start next weekend at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championship next weekend hosted by Columbia in New York.