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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s tennis pulls out two victories

<men’s tennis took on two MIAC teams this past weekend, they struggled slightly more than the team scores might suggest, yet fought to prevail decisively. Despite some individual struggles, Carleton ultimately displayed significant improvement especially in facing the College of St. Benedict.

On Friday, the team traveled two hours to compete against an opponent with whom they have historically had battles of matches. The past two years especially have shown the strength conference-wise of both teams, as the Knights fell 5-4 in 2008 but eked out a win by the same count last year. This time around, Carleton demonstrated their improvement from a stronger coaching staff and a deeper lineup by handling St. Ben’s with a conclusive 8-1 victory.

This result was not without trials though, as all three of the doubles matches set the tone for a possibly very long, hard-fought match. Indeed the St. Ben’s team competed very well, and the Knights had to take the match away from them. The third doubles pairing of Hannah Goldberg ’10 and Sarah Thappa ’13 finished with an 8-5 result that was the most decisive of the three doubles matches. Following this clean and hard-fought win, they said that was their best match together to date.

The other two teams both eventually followed suit, but they had to fight hard to overcome shaky starts. Carleton’s first doubles duo of Erin Gudul ’12 and Kathryn Schmidt ‘12 withstood their opponents’ power to rally for a 9-7 result. Second doubles’ Frances Leung ’10 and Bridget Doyle ’13 sliced and diced their way to a victory in a super-tiebreaker 9-8 (8-6).
Carleton took this confidence from doubles and headed into the portion of the team match with which they are even more at-ease: singles competition. The swirling winds and the disappearance of the sun made brought an ominous atmosphere, but the conditions did not prove to hinder the resolve of the Knights. Number one, two, three, and five singles finished their opponents off with style. Leung took her time, but pulled it out, and the team gathered to cheer on Goldberg but to no avail. Her opponent’s solid groundstrokes bested the senior Knight 6-3, 2-6, 10-8 for St. Ben’s singular point of the day.

The following day, head coach Luciano Battaglini decided to switch up the lineup and some different combinations versus St. Catherine University ended in a 7-2 victory. The two seniors got some rest as Leung only played the fourth singles spot and Goldberg teamed up with Doyle at second doubles for her only match of the day.

While the top two doubles skated through, the true test was third doubles. Battaglini put in Courtney Halbach ’13 to complement Sarah Thappa, who is regularly featured at third doubles. Never even having practiced together before, it was a match to understand each other as players and to gain doubles competition experience. And they did just that. Despite their 8-5 loss, these young women displayed an incredible willingness to go with the flow and compete hard for the team.

The top four singles spots finished off their opponents in fine fashion, and the real intrigue came from fifth and sixth singles. Rallying from a somewhat discombobulating doubles experience, Halbach stepped into six singles and made quick work of her opponent with her solid and consistent groundstrokes. Her partner, on the other hand, lost a quick first set 6-2, but showed a much-improved sense of focus and determination to take the second set in a tiebreaker. With all the Knights cheering her on, Thappa fell behind 9-5 in the super tiebreaker for the third set but made an extraordinary comeback, only to lose the 9-8 point.

The Knights will be sure to try to carry this flexibility as well as fighting spirit into their upcoming matches, notably the Northfield showdown against St. Olaf.

-Kathryn Schmidt is a member of the Women’s tennis team.

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