Ranked No. 10 in the United States, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis team (2-2, 1-0 SCIAC) traveled to DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., last weekend to play in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Indoor Nationals. The team played national Division III competition against the University of Redlands (3-2, 1-0 SCIAC), Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Chicago, finishing with a 1-2 record by beating Redlands for their lone win of the weekend.
The Hens began the tournament Friday, Feb. 28, battling fellow SCIAC competitor Redlands, ranked 11th nationally. At No. 3 doubles, Arthi Padmanabhan PO ’14 and Mae Coyiuto PO ’16 secured P-P’s lone doubles win. Despite being down 2-1 after doubles, the Hens rallied and won four of six singles matches to secure the victory.
Coyiuto won No. 2 singles in straight sets, defeating Redlands’ Natalie Etchegaray 6-0 and 6-2, followed by wins from Lea Lynn Yen PO ’16, Padmanabhan, and Rosemary Pelch PO ’17. Pelch clinched the overall victory for the Hens, winning her sets 6-2 and 6-1.
“A couple people asked me afterward if I knew while I was playing that I was the deciding match, and unfortunately I did. It was a lot of pressure to say the least … but it was very exciting and rewarding in the end,” Pelch said.
In the winners’ bracket, the Hens took on No. 7 Johns Hopkins on Saturday. P-P had a solid showing in their doubles matchups, leading 2-1. Sammy Chao PO ’14 and Yen won the first doubles set 9-8 (7-3), and Pelch and Maddie Gordon PO ’17 followed them with an 8-5 win in match two.
The Blue Jays rallied back in singles, however, winning five of six matchups against the Hens to lock down the win.
With one win and one loss in the tournament, the Hens went into Sunday against University of Chicago, ranked No. 8 nationally. Padmanabhan and Coyiuto won the third doubles matchup, but P-P again found themselves down 2-1 after doubles.
Padmanabhan and Coyiuto each won their singles matches, but it wasn’t enough, and the Hens fell 6-3.
Although P-P was 1-2 on the weekend, members said it was a rewarding experience.
“It was amazing to have this opportunity to play some of the best teams in the nation, but it was more exciting to know that we are right there with them,” Yen said. “Playing in and watching two matches that we lost, we all knew that they were teams we really could have beaten, and it was sometimes a matter of converting just one more point each game and the results could have been different.”
The Hens were satisfied with fending off their SCIAC competition, Redlands, as both teams are 1-0 in conference play.
After the weekend, Yen repeated words of wisdom imparted to the team by P-P head coach Andrew Cohn: “Doubles points are so impactful for the momentum going into singles.”
Throughout the weekend, the doubles matchups clearly had an impact on the team’s energy, but the Hens’ battle to beat Redlands after being down 2-1 coming out of doubles play demonstrated the Hens’ fighting spirit.
Moving forward, the team’s balance among the classes seems promising. Members of all classes were sent to Greencastle this weekend, and all members participated in a good team showing.
Although P-P lost two of their top six players from last year, they are looking to put forth a strong showing within the SCIAC and on the national stage. The team now has some time to prepare for a busy SCIAC schedule, as they have five non-conference matches before taking on Redlands again on March 21.
“As a team, we know we can’t take any team in SCIAC lightly, but it is certainly still encouraging that we beat Redlands this early in the season,” Pelch said.
The Hens have a week to recuperate from their trip to the Midwest before they host No. 21 University of Mary Washington (3-0) from Fredericksburg, Va., on Friday, March 7. The match begins at 2 p.m.