Last weekend’s victories against Dartmouth and Princeton to win the ECAC Championship helped propel the women’s tennis team to move from No. 63 to No. 51 in the national rankings. But that ascent hit a roadblock this weekend in Tennessee.
Facing off against No. 22 Tennessee in Knoxville and No. 16 Vanderbilt in Nashville this weekend was more of an uphill battle. The Bulldogs lost 6-1 to both teams. Still, head coach Danielle McNamara said the matches were valuable learning experiences.
“We definitely had chances in both matches this weekend and for me, it really highlighted the areas that we need to work on in order to break into the top 25,” she said.
Saturday’s match against Vanderbilt featured only one victory for the Elis. Janet Kim ’09 dominated the court in the first singles position against Vanderbilt’s Catherine Newman, who is No. 28 in the nation. The hard-fought saw Kim triumph by winning three sets of 6-2, 5-7, 10-4.
On Sunday, the women faced Tennessee, winning one doubles match and one singles match. But the doubles match, stolen by Lindsay Clark ’11 and Vicki Brook ’12, was not enough to give the Bulldogs the doubles point for the day. On the singles side, Kim once again controlled her court and brought home one more singles victory for the Elis over nationally ranked No. 45 Caitlin Whorskey.
“The highlight of the weekend was Janet Kim getting two of the biggest wins of her career,” McNamara said. “She did it by playing such smart tennis and stepping up in the big points. I’m extremely happy for her and it’s very encouraging and inspiring for her teammates to see her do such a great job.”
According to Kim, the team seemed to have more energy in the Tennessee match than it did against Vanderbilt.
“We knew that these were strong teams, but we trusted that our preparation and our tough matches so far put us in a good place to upset both Vanderbilt and Tennessee,” she said. “At this higher level, the biggest difference between winning and losing isn’t skill, it’s mental toughness and the ability to string points together.”
The women do not have a competition this coming weekend and will utilize their off-time to further their personal and technical game plans.
“We’re going to prepare by working on the things we need to improve in order to compete with highly ranked teams, such as developing weapons and minimizing our unforced errors,” captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 said. “On Wednesday we’re going to start back up again with lift and conditioning, and then Thursday and Friday we’ll have team practices. We’ll really be focusing … heading into spring break.”
During the first week of spring break, the Bulldogs will head to Texas to face off against Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas–Arlington, the University of Texas–San Antonio and the University of Houston.