Women’s tennis played the final match of their regular season April 22, defeating Redlands 6-3. With the win, the Hens finished with a 6-1 SCIAC record. Sunday’s match also honored the team’s graduating seniors: Nicole Holsted PO ’12, Emily Kawahara PZ ’12, Ellie Shanholt PO ’12 and Chelsey Kitazawa PZ ’12.
“Redlands was an important win for us as it secured us the number two seed heading into the SCIAC tournament,” head coach Brittany Biebl said.
To start off their senior day, Holsted and Kawahara cruised to an 8-4 victory at the third doubles slot. In the top spot, Jamie Solomon PZ ’13 and Kara Wang PZ ’13 lost a tough match 8-1 to Redlands’s top doubles team. In the second doubles spot, Samantha Chao PO ’14 and Arthi Padmanabhan PO ’14 won a close 9-7 match to claim the 2-1 edge.
The other pair of seniors, Shanholt and Kitazawa, also teamed up for a solid victory, winning their exhibition match 8-2 at the fourth spot.
The Hens took their momentum into singles, winning four of the six singles matches. Chao won her number two singles match 6-1, 6-1, followed by Padmanabhan, who won 6-2, 6-4.
“While we dominated at a few positions, the wins at other spots were at least as sweet,” Biebl said.
Biebl noted that Solomon’s win at the first singles spot was not only a good win for her personally, but it also secured the win for the Hens. Solomon rebounded strongly after doubles, claiming a 7-6 (4), 6-0 at the number one singles spot.
“At number one singles, Jamie Solomon had a long battle for the first set and fought off set points to eventually triumph in a tiebreaker,” said Biebl. “Jamie did a particularly good job of staying focused in the second set and sailing to a 7-6, 6-0 victory to give us the fifth deciding match point.”
After losses at the fourth and sixth singles spots, the Hens had won the match 5-3, but Holsted was still battling in her singles match at number five. When all other matches had finished, Holsted had just clinched her first set after coming back from 2-5 for a 7-5 win.
“Nicole Holsted at number five singles took the prize for the most heart,” Biebl said. “Nicole went quickly down 2-5 in the first set before digging in and taking the next five games for the first set. Her opponent didn’t give in too easily however, and Nicole continued to fight hard for every point to finally take the second set 6-4.”
Biebl feels positively about the match as it was not only important, but it also gave the team momentum going into the SCIAC tournament.
“The team demonstrated what is at this team’s core: loving the fight for each and every point,” Biebl said. “I feel that we reaffirmed this in our minds with this match, and we were all inspired by Nicole’s focus and effort.”
Holsted’s win finished senior day off on a high note.
Holsted has competed for the Hens for four years and was named to the All-SCIAC second team last year. She has played an instrumental role in the both the singles and doubles lineup for all four years. In the last three years, Holsted and Kawahara have been a solid team, racking up numerous victories in important matches.
Kawahara has been a member of the women’s tennis team for all four years, as well, and has established herself as one of the most talented doubles players. This year, she has also stepped into the singles lineup and has seen success there.
Ellie Shanholt has also played for the Hens for four years, stepping into the lineup on numerous occasions. Her steady play has earned her some great wins, including singles and doubles victories over Amherst this year.
Kitazawa has been a member of the team since her sophomore year. Her quick hands at the net have made her a strong force in doubles, and she has been especially strong in doubles competition this year with Shanholt.
“Senior day is always bittersweet, but Redlands was a great way to end the regular season,” Wang said. “We’re looking forward to another few great matches in SCIACs and hopefully beyond.”
Up next for some of the Hens is the Ojai Tournament, an individual competition. Teams Solomon and Wang as well as Holsted and Kawahara will compete in the doubles, and Solomon, Chao and Jessica Hsu PO ’13 will play singles.
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Hens will compete in the SCIAC tournament at Cal Lutheran, where they will be seeded second behind CMS.