Bears upset DePauw
The Washington University women’s tennis team opened its spring season with a tough 5-4 victory over DePauw University on Sunday. The No. 16 Bears took an early doubles lead and split singles play with the No. 12 Tigers in Greencastle, Ind.
“It’s good to get started off with this win because we have tougher matches this season, so this is good practice,” sophomore Elise Sambol said.
Junior Allison Dender and sophomore Karina Kocemba won at second doubles 8-6, while the sophomore tandem of Jaclyn Bild and Sambol won at third doubles by the same score. Dender and Kocemba rallied from 2-5 while Bild and Sambol rallied from 1-4 to take each match.
Winning doubles matches has become the team’s top focus this season, since the Bears often entered singles play behind either 0-3 or 1-2 last season.
“In the last five weeks of practice, we’ve been really working hard on doubles, so it was great for the girls to see the results. Going into singles 2-1 doesn’t necessarily make singles easier, but it gives us a little breathing room, so I think it was a great day for them,” Head Coach Kelly Stahlhuth said.
“Up 2-1, it just changed the way we went into singles. Kelly told us in a team meeting before singles, ‘You guys are down 0-3’ just so we’d have that mentality so we’d work hard in singles, but just knowing that we were up already is a really good feeling,” Sambol said.
Bild and Sambol also took their matches at third and fourth singles, with Bild cruising 6-4, 6-1 and Sambol erasing a 4-6 loss in the first set with a 6-1, 6-1 finish to take the match.
Sophomore Kalee Cassady won the final match for the Red and Green by taking the third set 6-3 after she and opponent Tricia Wilks split the first two sets 6-3, 3-6 at fifth singles.
Dender lost her sixth singles match 6-2, 2-6, 2-6 while senior Erin Swaller lost at first singles 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) and Kocemba fell in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 at second singles.
Although early in the spring season, Stahlhuth thought both Wash. U. and DePauw played strong matches and that the win showed the team’s progression from last season.
“Last year, we were really close to these teams ahead of us…It’s nice to know you get close to the top teams, but it was nice this year to actually take a team ranked ahead of us and pull it out 5-4. It just gives us confidence,” Stahlhuth said.
The team will have three weeks off before a trip to Southern California to face Occidental College and California Lutheran University in true road contests and then a neutral site match against No. 11 Bowdoin College during spring break. The team’s first home match will not come until March 19 against Emporia State University.
“This weekend gave us a chance to see what we need to keep focusing on…so I’m kind of excited these next three weeks to get back to drills in practice and regroup and then be ready for spring break,” Stahlhuth said.