Women’s tennis: Bears upset in first round, take 5th at UAAs

| Associate Editor

The No. 14 Washington University women’s tennis team was unable to maintain its lead over the University of Rochester and fell 5-4 to the Yellowjackets to start the University Athletic Association tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The effort was there. We definitely wanted to do well, but I think it was all in the preparation. We need to work harder and [be] just a little more committed, that’s all,” head coach Kelly Stahlhuth said. “We kind of knew Rochester was a sleeper team, kind of a dark horse, so we weren’t over-confident. I think we went in mentally ready, but I don’t think we were as prepared as we could have been.”

Juniors Jaclyn Bild and Elise Sambol started the match against Rochester on a high note with an 8-2 win at second doubles, and senior Allison Dender and sophomore Natalie Tingir took third doubles 8-0. Freshman Kate Klein and junior Karina Kocemba were unable to complete the doubles sweep and fell 8-4 to Lia Weiner and Frances Tseng.

Because of rain, the matches were played indoors, but a court reservation error allowed Rochester to regroup and come away with the upset.

After winning the opening set 6-4, Klein took a 5-4 lead on Weiner when play was suspended since another group had reserved the courts for the next two hours. When play resumed, Weiner evened the set, won the tiebreaker 9-7 and clamped down to win the third set 6-1. The delay also postponed Bild’s match before the start of the third set, and Bild wound up losing the match 6-3, 3-6, 4-6.

“You could kind of tell Rochester knew that they had us where they wanted us,” Stahlhuth said. “The last sets just didn’t go the right way.”

Junior Kalee Cassady also won the first set in fifth singles before eventually falling 7-5, 5-7, 2-6. At second singles, Tseng pushed past Kocemba 6-4, 6-1.

On a bright note for the Bears, Tingir and Dender continued their dominant play during singles competition, taking fourth and sixth singles 6-2, 6-2 and 6-0, 6-1, respectively.

Placed in the consolation bracket following the loss on Friday afternoon, the Bears rallied to finish fifth in the eight-team tournament.

The Bears rebounded to win the consolation bracket. Wash. U. opened with a 6-3 victory over NYU, with the only losses coming at first doubles and second and third singles. Both singles matches came down to super-tiebreakers, but Kocemba and Bild fell 9-11 and 5-10 in respectively.

“I don’t think it [losing to Rochester] put any additional pressure on Saturday’s matches,” said Dender, the team captain. “They were two teams that were ranked behind us. We went out there the same way and had to bounce back after a tough loss, and I think we did a good job.”

Tingir and Dender continued to dominate their opponents, teaming up for an 8-3 win at third doubles and winning their singles matches 6-1, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-0, respectively.

Klein rebounded to take first singles 6-1, 6-4, and Cassady won at fifth singles in the minimum 12 games, defeating Tiffany Thong 6-0, 6-0.

The Red and Green continued to play well against Brandeis, losing just first doubles in the 6-1 win. Second and fourth singles went unfinished.

“They knew that we were kind of hurt [our pride] and thought that they had a pretty good chance of getting us…but we made sure we did it one more time,” Stahlhuth added.

Bild finally broke into the winning column in singles by taking the clinching match 6-0, 6-2 at third singles. Klein, Tingir and Dender each recorded singles wins, and, as with the doubles play all weekend, the teams of Bild/Sambol and Tingir/Dender recorded victories.

The Bears conclude the season at 3:30 p.m. Friday against McKendree University at the Tao Tennis Center and will then train in anticipation of making the NCAA tournament.

“We hope one bad loss doesn’t hurt us, and it could…We’re hoping that they’ll recognize that one day doesn’t make or break a season, but a lot of people do judge it that way,” Stahlhuth said.

NCAA tournament bids will be announced on May 10.