A sharp pivot. A shift in momentum. The constant pounding of rackets against incoming tennis balls at well over one hundred miles per hour. The action centered on a ball flying back and forth over the three-and-half-foot tall black netting.
By the end of Sunday, Mar. 13, all these sounds characterized the Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis team (8-2, 1-0 SCIAC) resounding 8-1 team victory over No. 10 Division-III-ranked Washington University St. Louis (6-5, 0-0 Conf.). Coming off a five-match win streak, one could definitely say that the Sagehens are in rare form this year. Their match against Wash. U. came as the first game in what would be a back-to-back-to-back schedule over the break. During their spring break, the tennis team held down the fort and fiercely defended their winning record. The Sagehens, seated No. 1 in D-III this season, have fought tooth-and-nail all season long to achieve their impressive record.
P-P’s program’s success this year is not the result of a breakout season for Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Tennis. Rather, it is the culmination of continued success: The program has maintained above a .700 record within conference play for the past four seasons, and continues adding depth each year.
On Sunday, that success was on full display as all three doubles won their matches and five of the six singles won in their matches. The terrific win over Wash. U also comes as their second straight victory against a top-20 team after their ITA National Championship title and consecutive wins over Mary Washington University (11-2, 3-0 Conf.) and Carnegie Mellon University (10-5, 0-0 Conf.).
But Pomona-Pitzer’s success didn’t stop there. The following day, on Monday, Mar. 14, the Sagehens continued their streak in the second game of their back-to-back-to-back schedule with a 6-3 win over No. 4 Amherst College (3-4, 0-0 Conf.). Although the victory wouldn’t be reflected in the scoreline as a blowout as it was against Wash. U., strong performances from Caroline Casper PO ’19 in No. 2 singles, Maryann Zhao PO ’18 in No. 3 singles, Mae Coyiuto PO ’16 in No. 4 singles, and Marie Fleming PZ ’16 in No. 6 singles gave P-P an edge over Amherst. Additionally, Pomona-Pitzer’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams (Zhao and Emily Chen PO '18, and Lea Lynn Yen PO ’16 and Casper, respectively) helped close out the win for the Sagehens.
This is the first time in 18 years that Pomona-Pitzer has defeated Amherst College. Sadly, though, the victory parade would come to an end as an exhausted Pomona-Pitzer side would barely fall to Bowdoin College (6-1, 1-0 Conf.) 5-4 in the last game of their third match in three days. But the defeat isn't something that should give the Sagehens worry as they move forward with their season.
In fact, some might argue this loss may be what the Sagehens needed. Championships and long-term winning streaks can begin to make any sports team complacent and every once in a while, every great team needs to take a tough loss. It builds character amongst a team and helps to make great teams even greater than before. Endurance is clearly what needs to be revisited in the locker room for Pomona-Pitzer. If they cannot endure a packed schedule, then the Sagehens may have a hard time enduring the rest of the season. Perhaps by reflecting on this win, the team will remember that its recipe for success derives from its heart, grit, and determination. The Sagehens will keep these values in mind, as they face University of La Verne (3-8, 1-0 SCIAC), and Lewis & Clark College (10-1, 7-0 Conf.) in back-to-back matches on Saturday, Mar. 26, and throughout the rest of their season.