Tennis Faces Tough Regional Opponents, Returns with Two Big Victories
Issue   |   Tue, 04/12/2016 - 22:25

For the second straight weekend, the Amherst women’s tennis team left home on Saturday and returned to campus with two victories.

With its wins over highly ranked regional rivals Massachusetts Institue of Technology and Bowdoin on Saturday and Sunday, the purple and white stretched its win streak to six matches and demonstrated that, once again, they will be a force in both NESCAC and national competition.

Fresh off last weekend’s dominating victories against lesser opponents, Brandeis and Babson, Amherst entered the match against MIT on Saturday with confidence and the air of a team that had truly hit its stride.

While the Engineers entered the match sporting a national ranking of 17, the purple and white brushed them aside with ease in a comprehensive 8-1 win. For the fourth straight match, Amherst made all three doubles courts its own, losing only four games combined.

The action on the singles court was much of the same, with Amherst dominating the majority of the matchups and losing just a single match.

Courts four through six proved to be lopsided affairs, with Sarah Monteagudo ’16, Kelsey Chen ’19 and Avery Wagman ’18 combining to lose only a single game. The top three courts, however, were rife with excitement, as two of the three matches ended up going to a third set.

On the first court, Suhasini Ghosh ’16 lost a tightly-contested affair 0-6, 6-4, 1-6 to Dora Zheng of MIT, but Amherst got its revenge on the second and third courts with Vickie Ip ’18 and Jackie Calla ’17E respectively.

Ip won (6-4, 6-3) in a hard-fought contest, but the most thrilling match of the day put Calla against MIT’s Wendi Kong. Calla lost the first set 7-5, but battled back to take the second 6-3, forcing a dramatic third set, which saw Calla prevail 11-9.
Calla attributed her toughness to the team’s mentality in practices and entering matches. “We have stepped up our fitness and our intensity at practices,” Calla said. “When everything and anything is going wrong, you’ve got to love it.”

After the victory against MIT, Amherst was riding high when they arrived in Brunswick, Maine to face the fourth-ranked Bowdoin, a team that would be Amherst’s toughest test since the team had returned from California. However, what was supposed to be a tough test for Amherst proved to be less challenging than expected with the purple and white notching an imposing 6-3 victory.

While the doubles courts had been Amherst’s greatest strength in their previous victories, the Polar Bears were worthy opponents, winning on the first and third doubles courts.

Amherst’s sole doubles victory came from the second doubles pairing of Ip and Chen, won with an 8-2 victory. However, the purple and white were too strong for Bowdoin in singles action, losing only a single match on the first court.

The five remaining singles matches saw Amherst take five two set victories, very few of which featured the 6-0 or 6-1 set victories that the purple and white had grown accustomed to over the past week. However, this team clearly loves the tight matches just as much as the blowout.

“There’s no way you can win the tough matches if you don’t love the tough moments,” Calla said.
These victories, as well as the purple and white’s victory over Trinity on Wednesday night, move Amherst’s overall record on the season to 9-4 overall and 3-0 in NESCAC play with three matches against conference foes in the upcoming week.

Amherst’s near sweep of Trinity (8-1) continues their undefeated NESCAC play, and puts them on top of the conference, with Williams as the only other college remaining undefeated in conference.

Next weekend, Amherst faces two tough matches, as they welcome their Little Three rivals to the purple and white home court, Williams and Wesleyan, on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17 respectively.