Women’s tennis clinches a third place finish in the UAA

Albert Mo | Contributing Reporter

In its final tournament before the NCAA Championships, the No. 9 Washington University women’s tennis team bounced back from a loss in the conference semifinals with a spirited performance to earn third place in the University Athletic Association Championships in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

The Bears cruised past No. 23 Case Western University in the quarterfinals, 7-2, before losing to No. 8 Carnegie Mellon 6-3. But the Red and Green responded by defeating No. 12 University of Chicago 6-3 in the third-place match.

Wash. U. opened the tournament with a matchup against Case Western, a team that the Red and Green defeated 6-3 earlier this season. This match was much of the same as the Bears dominated from the first serve to advance to the semifinal.

The Bears held a 3-0 advantage after doubles and won four out of six singles matches to advance to play Carnegie in the UAA semifinals. Senior Corinne Rauck pointed to the team’s experience in doubles as a deciding factor in the match.

“We came out of the gate aggressive, and it helped us provide a strong presence in doubles. All of our doubles had more experience playing together compared to Case, so we took advantage of that,” Rauck said.

Going into Friday’s match, Rauck was looking to join the 100-win club, and she earned it in No. 1 doubles with freshman Rebecco Ho to become the 21st player in school history to reach triple digits.

“I kind of knew going in that it would be the big 100 if I could pull it out. My partner and I brought out the best, and we just tried to be aggressive from the start. We had great momentum, and we were moving well on the court. It ended up being a dominant performance,” Rauck said.

In a rematch with No. 8 Carnegie Mellon University, the Red and Green sought to avenge an early-season 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Tartans. The Bears looked like they were going to do just that, seizing first- and third-flight doubles after dropping second doubles—giving the Bears a 2-1 lead heading into singles play. However, Carnegie Mellon rallied back, grabbing five of six singles matches to win 6-3 overall. Although the Bears lost by the same score as the last time they played Carnegie, sophomore Jamie Silverberg believes that the team played much better.

“I think we knew we could improve as a team over the season after playing them. We were very pumped up, and we had a session talking about each individual player and the game plan. We felt that we were a lot closer this time than last. We dominated in doubles, but they had a strong singles lineup that matched up well against us. I think fatigue got us, and heat got the best of us,” Silverberg said. “Even if the score doesn’t say it, the points were very close.”

Remaining focused, the Bears looked to take down the No. 12 University of Chicago in the third-place match. Wash. U. once again took a 2-1 lead after doubles as Ho and Rauck won a nail-biter 9-8 (8-6) and the third doubles pair of junior Hanna Newstadt and senior Betsy Edershile secured a decisive 8-2 win.

In singles, the Bears continued to best the Maroons. Petraskova and Edershile both prevailed in straight sets, and overall, Wash. U. won four out of six singles matches to clinch a third-place finish in the tournament. The Bears improved to 17-5 on the season with this weekend’s performance.

“I’m thrilled,” head coach Kelly Stahlhuth said. “[It was] a very tough and successful weekend. We had three tough matches; there was nothing easy, [and as the weekend] drew on, there was a cumulative effect—we kept getting stronger and kept fighting.”

The women’s tennis team will look to continue its success this postseason in the NCAA Division III tournament, where they won two matches last season before falling to Amherst College.