Women’s tennis finds success at two-day Brown Classic

The Big Green won seven of its 11 singles matches and half of its four doubles matches over two days of competition, including four of five singles matches against the University of Rhode Island.

by Bella Martin | 10/31/22 1:05am

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Courtesy of Doug Austin

On Oct. 22 and 23, women’s tennis put together two successful days of competition against the University of Connecticut, Boston University and the University of Rhode Island at the Brown Classic.

Dartmouth opened the tournament on Saturday, competing against the University of Connecticut and Boston University. The Big Green won three of its five singles matches against the Huskies. Ashley Hess ’23, Brooke Hess ’26 and Ujvala Jupalli ’25 all won in singles. In the lone doubles match, Valentina Cruz ’26 and Emily Zhou ’23 bested their UConn doubles counterparts. Against BU, Zhou won her singles match, which was the Big Green’s only victory over the Terriers.

On Sunday, Dartmouth continued the classic against Rhode Island. The Big Green won in four of the five singles and claimed the lone doubles matches. Jupalli, Brooke Hess and Zhou once again saw victories in the singles. Amelija Swaffer-Selff ’24 also defeated Rhode Island in the singles match. In the lone doubles, Chidimma Okpara ’23 and Ashley Hess defeated their Rhode Island counterparts. 

Overall, the Brown Classic showcased the new and returning talent of the team, Zhou said. She added that she enjoyed playing doubles with Cruz, a freshman. 

“That was a great experience and kind of a bonding experience,” Zhou said. “That was a good way for me to start out the tournament, and then I had some singles matches and had some pre-match nerves again, but I played pretty well and it came back like muscle memory.” 

The classic also allowed players to get back into the swing of the game, Ashley Hess said. She said it felt good to be on the court after not being able to play much over the summer, especially with everybody’s efforts directed toward holistic team improvement. 

“I think everyone wants to do well and play well [for themselves], but they also want to play well for the team and for Dartmouth,” Hess said. “The team is like family.” 

Throughout the fall term, the team has been preparing for this competition and the season in general. Head coach Bob Dallis explained that preparation for the Brown Classic was fairly similar to regular season practices, but the tournament  allowed new and returning players to get adjusted again. 

“We're in the stage of the season where some of the new players are trying to define what they like to do, what they're working on and what they're trying to get better at,,” Dallis said. “...For some of the returning players, it was more a week of reminding them of what [they have] been working on this fall.” 

With the introduction of new freshmen to the squad, the team has also been focusing on establishing a good team dynamic. Zhou said that the mantra of the team has become “playing for each other” — and they place a strong emphasis on supporting each other on and off the court. 

“I have got to give some props to the freshmen, just coming in their first kind of big team event. It is definitely a transition from junior tennis, which is super individual,” Zhou said. “Everyone did a great job supporting each other after they played their matches as well as during their match.”

This season, the team hopes to continue its high level of play. Looking ahead to the Big Green Invite on Nov. 4, Dallis said that the team is working on their competitive outlook and responding to the challenges that other teams present.  He added that he hopes the team will continue to play at a competitive level. 

“What we're looking to accomplish is similar to competing at a really high level and doing a very good job of playing for each other,” Dallis said.  “Sometimes it is hard to define, but you can kind of know it and feel it and see it when it occurs.” 

Hess said the Big Green Invitational also allows players to demonstrate their hard work in front of  the Dartmouth community 

“I’m a ’23, so this is my last Big Green Invite,” Hess said. “...My sister and I are both on the team, and our family is coming up for that. We just loved being able to compete at home, in front of fans and friends.” 

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