Women’s tennis takes fifth in ITA indoor tournament
Playing three matches in two days, the No. 12 Washington University women’s tennis team battled fatigue and exhaustion to bounce back from a first-round loss to No. 9 Carnegie Mellon University and finish fifth at the ITA Indoor Championship in Greencastle, Ind.
Despite the loss in the tournament opener, the Bears picked up strong wins over two ranked teams, No. 13 DePauw University and No. 11 University of Redlands, on Saturday.
The Bears opened their weekend with a first-round matchup against Carnegie Mellon. Sophomores Aly Coran and Jamie Silverberg earned one win for the women’s side with an 8-6 victory in No. 2 doubles, but the Bears proved unable to surmount the 1-2 deficit after doubles, coming away with only two victories in singles. Freshman Rebecca Ho came back from one set down to take the match at 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-2, and senior Corinne Rauck also overcame an early deficit to take the match at 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 1-0 (10-8). The Bears fell 3-6 to the Tartans as a team.
With the loss, the Bears were relegated to the consolation rounds of the tournament, but an opportunity to avenge an early-season loss to DePauw kept the Red and Green motivated.
“We were just really excited to have another chance to play DePauw. We thought that we had improved a lot by doing a bunch of different drills during practices and also focusing on doubles,” Silverberg said.
Wash. U. took an early 2-1 advantage over the Tigers as the Bears won the first- and third-flight doubles. The top pair of Rauck and senior Theresa Petraskova won 8-5, and the pairing of senior Betsy Edershile and junior Hanna Newstadt also tallied an 8-5 victory.
The singles side then completed the win with Silverberg, Ho, Edershile and Rauck all topping their DePauw opponents.
According to Silverberg, the main difference between the two matches was the emphasis that the Bears placed on doubles the second time.
“The first time we played, we went into singles down 3-0, but this time, after practicing and focusing a lot on doubles, we went into singles with a 2-1 lead, which was huge and really pumped us up for singles. I think that was a key factor in helping us win this weekend,” Silverberg said.
Bears’ head coach Kelly Stahlhuth also reinforced the idea that additional practice time proved crucial in preparing the Bears for the second match with DePauw.
“We had more practice time; we had more time to refine our shots and to come together as a team,” Stahlhuth said. “We practice against each other, but you really need to go out there and play against people you’ve never played before and test it. With each match, we need to figure out what we do and then improve upon it, and that’s exactly what we did over the past two weeks.”
Coming into the final round, the Bears proved their mettle in what turned out to be their strongest round of the tournament by trouncing Redlands 8-1.
After establishing an early 2-1 lead over Redlands, with Coran and Silverberg winning 8-5 and Edershile and Newstadt proving victorious by the same count, the Wash. U. women turned their focus to the singles side, where they swept all six matches and combined to lose only one set of the 13 played.
“A lot of people were exhausted by the time we played Redlands. The main factor was focus and zoning in during that last and final match,” Silverberg said. “We were really able to take a step back and realize that it was our last match and that we could relax afterwards…Someone on our team said we had never beaten a top-15 team by more than 6-3, so beating Redlands the way we did, it was really exciting,”
With the two wins, the Bears improved to 2-2 for the season.
Stahlhuth added, “It was hard this weekend since essentially they were our second, third and fourth matches of the year. We didn’t have many matches going into this weekend. We went right into a bunch of contests with top-12 teams in the nation, so we weren’t sure how it would work out. But with the wins, it turned out to be a very good test for us.”