After opening their season with a 3-6 loss to Williams, the women’s tennis team looked to rebound with a strong performance at the USTA/ITA New England Regional Tournament last weekend.
The Lady Jeffs headed to Bates for the event, which was unique in that each player competed individually, instead of as part of the team. After the departure of six key seniors from last year’s national runner-up squad, Amherst hoped to use the weekend as an indicator of how well they should match up against their NESCAC and Div. III rivals this year.
Highlighting the Jeffs’ performances this weekend was the dynamic doubles duo of sophomore Jordan Brewer and senior Laura Danzig. Seeded second in a field of 32, the pair opened up play against Wellesley’s Marie Watanabe and Sojung Lee, earning a hard-fought 9-7 victory. In the next round, Brewer and Danzig slotted an 8-4 win over Williams’ Maria Pylypiv and Monica Pastor, before dispatching Tufts’ Lindsay Katz and Shelci Bowman by the same score.
In the semifinals, Brewer and Danzig defeated Middlebury’s Sally Wilkey and Lok-Sze Leung, 9-7, to earn an appearance in the finals against Williams’ Nancy Worley and Kara Shoemaker. In last weekend’s matchup, Brewer and Danzig defeated Worley and Shumkaer 8-4. The finals would prove to be more of the same, with the Lady Jeffs capturing the 2011 doubles title with a decisive 8-5 win.
On the other side of the doubles draw, sophomores Jen Newman and Zoe Pangalos reached the semifinals with impressive wins over teams from Conn. College (8-1) and Williams (8-4), as well as the third-seeded duo from Middlebury (8-2). In the semifinals, playing for an all-Amherst final, Newman and Pangalos fell to Williams’ Worley and Shoemaker, 5-8.
Amherst head coach Jackie Bagwell was pleased overall with her team’s doubles efforts, especially Newman and Pangalos, who upset Middlebury’s top-seeded doubles pairing and beat the same Williams team that they had lost to earlier in the season, 3-8. Bagwell did not fail to mention her doubles champs either, who according to her, “just got better and better, ending with two very solid matches in the semifinals and finals.”
In their singles matches, however, the Jeffs were less successful. Seeded first overall, Brewer cruised by Babson’s Sarah Whitaker (7-5, 6-1) and Brandeis’ Carly Cooke (6-3, 6-1), before being upset by ninth-seeded Eph Leah Kepping, 6-7 (2), 1-6 in the third round.
Seeded seventh, Danzig also won her first two matches before losing to Kathleen Elkins of Williams, 6-4, 6-2. Also posting first-round wins for the Jeffs were Lauren Slutsky ’14, Newman and Pangalos, though all three failed to make it past the second round. Middlebury’s Leung ended up winning the singles title after not dropping a single set over the course of the weekend.
Though it’s early in the year, Bagwell already feels her players need to step up. “I was extremely pleased with the doubles results, but I thought we could have fought harder in the singles bracket. I felt most of our players are better than what their singles results showed,” she explained. Still, with the doubles championship and several other big wins this past weekend for a relatively young team, the tournament was certainly a step in the right direction early in the season for the Jeffs.
Amherst travels to Middlebury this weekend to compete in the Gail Smith Doubles Tournament.