Women’s Tennis, Loaded With Talent, Aims For Strong Fall Campaign
Issue   |   Thu, 08/31/2017 - 22:36
Amherst Athletics
Anya Ivenitsky ‘20 had an impresive debut campaign for the Mammoths last spring, often playing on one of the top three singles courts.

The Amherst women’s tennis team enters the fall portion of their season on the back of a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 campaign that saw the team eliminated in the first round of the NESCAC tournament and the second round of nationals, a far cry from the team’s recent stretch of dominance.

However, the Mammoths lost few players to graduation and, with the expected jumps in performance by many of the team’s talented sophomores and juniors, there is plenty of excitement around the upcoming campaign.

Head coach Jackie Bagwell, entering her 27th season at Amherst’s helm, will likely hope that several of last year’s underclassmen take it upon themselves to up their games. Among these potential leapers are the first-year duo of Camille Smukler ’20 and Anya Ivenitsky ’20, who played in the first and second singles spots, respectively, in last year’s season-ending NCAA tournament loss to Middlebury. Going into their second season in Western Massachusetts, both players promise to provide quality production on both the singles and doubles courts, hopefully following in the tradition of past Amherst individual greats.

Juniors Kelsey Chen and Camilla Trapness also return from last year’s core. Like their teammates a year below them, Chen and Trapness were at or near the top of the singles lineup for the duration of the spring campaign, usually slotting into the top four with Smukler and Ivenitsky.

The doubles partnership of Smukler and Chen, in particular, looks like a pairing to watch. After playing consistently on the No. 1 doubles court together last season, the two should be one of the NESCAC’s top pairings once again.

Meanwhile, the two seniors expected to see significant action on the courts are captain Avery Wagman and stud Vickie Ip. Although Ip missed last spring’s season while studying abroad, she was the Mammoths’ unquestioned top singles player last fall, reaching the semifinals of the ITA Regional Championship’s Individual bracket.

Hopefully, the semester abroad won’t have dulled her remarkable tennis acumen, as her presence in the singles lineup alongside Chen, Trapness, Smukler and Ivenitsky looks promising this year.

Meanwhile Wagman provides an unfaltering hand to guide the program throughout the season, as this will be her second season as team captain.

Although she’s slotted into the sixth singles court for each of the past two seasons, Wagman has dominated all comers in that position, providing a near-automatic point each match. Wagman also presents the additional benefit of having formed a strong doubles partnership with Ivenitsky, often playing on the second court. With what should be a promising class of first years and several other rising sophomores, the Amherst roster looks stacked with talent.

The Mammoths play only one true dual match this fall, the annual matchup against Williams, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Ephs’ home courts.

Rather, Amherst will participate in three tournaments that contain both singles and doubles brackets, which will pit the Mammoths against other elite competition from the region.

Having had success in these tournaments in recent years, Bagwell and assistant Suhasini Ghosh ’16 will likely use these matches to help establish the lineup for the all-important spring season.

Amherst’s first action of the year will be the MIT Invitational on the weekend of Sept. 15-17.

Update: An earlier version of this article misspelled Kelsey Chen's name as Chan. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.