Women’s Tennis Starts Season 2-0, Ranked 9th Nationally

Women’s tennis defeated Cal Lutheran University March 2 and Vassar College March 7 to start the season 2-0. The win over Cal Lu also gives the Hens their first SCIAC win of the year.

“The team made a start to the season with a good win against a conference opponent who played a great match against us,” said Head Coach Brittany Biebl of the Cal Lu match. 

Play began at Cal Lu last Friday with doubles. At the second doubles slot, Samantha Chao PO ’14 and Arthi Padmanabhan PO ’14 won their match 8-0, followed by a close 8-6 win from the third doubles duo, Nicole Holsted PO ’12 and Emily Kawahara PZ ’12. At the first doubles slot, Jamie Solomon PZ ’13 and Kara Wang PO ’13 were edged out by Cal Lu’s top team with a score of 9-7. 

Going into singles, the Sagehens were up 2-1. The lead crept to 3-1 about half an hour later when Chao dominated her opponent at the two-spot to take the win 6-0, 6-0. The win made Chao’s performance the most dominant of the day, as she did not lose a game on the day—singles or doubles. 

As Kara Wang had stepped out of the third singles spot for the day to protect an injury, the rest of the lineup moved up a spot, putting Padmanabhan at third, Holsted at fourth, Kawahara at fifth and Jessica Hsu PO ’13 at sixth. 

Kawahara came up with a 6-4, 6-1 victory, while Hsu also defeated her opponent in straight sets with a score of 6-3, 6-3. Next off the courts was Padmanabhan, who won 6-1, 6-1. 

Solomon’s and Holsted’s matches, spots one and four, respectively, both went into a third set. However, since the Hens were up 6-1, the result was already known, and it was therefore decided among the coaches and referees to play a ten-point tiebreak instead of a full third set to decide the remaining matches.

Holsted pulled out her tiebreak 11-9, bringing the score to 7-1 as Solomon started her ten-pointer. The tiebreak was neck-and-neck until it reached 9-9, at which point Solomon won two points to close out the match with a score of 6-4, 5-7, 11-9, finalizing the team’s 8-1 victory. 

“The P-P players and coaches were all thrilled to finally have a match this season, and their energy showed it,” Biebl said. “We dominated, especially at number-two doubles and numbers-two and -three singles with, respectively, sophomores Samantha Chao and Arthi Padmanabhan.” 

The players expressed a similar excitement over finally playing a match, as the team has been practicing for a month and a half without any matches. 

“Despite the gale-force winds, we were all so happy to be playing a match after so many weeks of practice,” Holsted said. “At this point, every match is an opportunity for learning and improvement, and the few close matches we had at Cal Lu will help us as we face six tough teams over the break.”

The Hens’ spring break schedule is packed with six matches fit into seven days. The run began March 7, when the Hens defeated Vassar College in a close 5-4 decision. 

The Hens began Wednesday in a dominant fashion, earning all the three doubles points to go up 3-0. Solomon and Wang won their match at the top spot 8-6, Chao and Padmanabhan won 8-3 and Holsted and Kawahara won a close 8-6 decision.

With a strong lead going into singles, it was decided that Chao be pulled from the second singles spot to protect an injury, thus moving everyone but Solomon up one spot and putting Kristin Brikmanis PO ’14 at the sixth spot. 

Singles proved to be a bigger challenge for the Hens than they had expected, despite Solomon easily winning her match at number one 6-1, 6-2 to bring the score to 4-0. Only one more point was needed to secure the win, but the other five singles matches were all close contests. 

Wang lost a close 6-4, 6-4 decision, followed by Kawahara and Brikmanis, who lost with scores of 6-4, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-3, respectively. 

Padmanabhan and Holsted both split sets in their matches at the third and fourth spots. Padmanabhan won her final set 6-4, securing the fifth point, followed by a close 6-4 loss at number four. 

“We played well on Wednesday, but I know we can do better,” Kawahara said. “We have five spring break matches left, and we are all going to improve in some way with each one. All of these matches are learning experiences.”

Biebl expressed a similar sentiment. 

“With a stacked spring break schedule, I’m excited to see the team show what they can do,” she said.

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