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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s tennis defeats rival Olaf 6-3, loses to Luther 5-4

<ast week, Knights women’s tennis once again proved they are a force to contend with in the MIAC and in the region as well with a 6-3 win over Northfield rival St. Olaf and an extremely close defeat of 4-5 at the hands of the Luther Norse of Decorah, IA.

On April 15, avenging last year’s loss to Olaf that prevented the team from reaching the conference championship was not without its drama, but Carleton was relieved by the outcome. And then on Saturday, while the result fell short of the Knights’ hopes, the showing was a definite improvement on the last two years of Knight-Norse action.

For Carleton and St. Olaf, sharing a hometown meant a Wednesday rainout was played on Thursday with the warmth of the afternoon sunlight tempered by a gusty breeze. The Knights started off strong in the doubles round, motivated by a characteristically playful, rather than mean-spirited, rivalry with Olaf, the desire to avenge their 2009 playoff loss, and a strong sense of competition. Carleton pulled off decisive victories against Olaf teams who never back down from a challenge.

The Knights all displayed some good hands with netplay and solid groundstrokes to weather the unorthodoxy and pace prevalent in their opponents’ styles of game. The first doubles team of Erin Gudul ’12 and Kathryn Schmidt ’12 and the second slot of Frances Leung ’10 and Bridget Doyle ’12 both came through with scores of 8-3, and the third doubles team of Hannah Goldberg ’10 and Sarah Thappa ‘13 also pulled off an 8-4 win in convincing fashion.

Sixth singles Courtney Halbach ’13 was the first off the court in the singles round and used her positivity coming off a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win to cheer on the rest of the battle. Schmidt was the next to pull through with a quick first set but some complications in the second against a scrappy and determined opponent. The atmosphere was testy in the matches that remained on court because every single player out there wanted those victories. Gudul’s opponent was not going to give in just because she lost the first set, but this Knight was able to stay tough and take the match in a second set tiebreaker.

Unfortunately, the remaining three tiebreakers did not go Carleton’s way as Doyle’s strokes were a little off and resulted in her first MIAC singles loss, Leung fell in a match mired by scoring disputes, and Thappa hung tough but could not overcome the pendulum swing in her match. A couple of the Knights were disappointed in their singles results, but all the girls were determined to start fresh and compete hard against Luther.
Setting off with homework, sandwiches, and a fun tunes selection in tow, a two-and-a-half hour car ride put the Knights in Decorah. The flat terrain made for a blustery environment, which partially contributed to a slow start. In doubles, third was bested pretty quickly as shots were just not falling. After falling behind 5-2, the first slot was eventually able to cut back on their errors and take 6 straight games for an 8-5 victory. The major story of this round was Leung and Doyle at second facing a tough Luther tandem that Gudul and Schmidt had competed against last year. The Knights were leading 7-4 in this one but unfortunately couldn’t close, and to the Luther girls’ credit, they came back to take a 9-7 victory from Carleton to lead 2-1 after doubles.
Playing two out of three sets for this non-conference match instead of a super tiebreaker for the third set further intensified emotions. In singles, the top two spots got off to decent starts, yet while Schmidt got off the court pretty quickly to encourage her struggling teammates, Doyle was in for a long one. Halbach was handed an uncharacteristic loss, but her opponent’s ability to turn consistency into driving groundstrokes was too much.

Thappa carried herself with determination and pulled out a solid 6-3, 6-4 win, but her collected demeanor did not translate to her neighboring court which, producing some outbursts, hosted an up and down three-setter that spelled defeat for Leung. The match took up a good chunk of time on this Saturday afternoon but was decided 5-4 in Luther’s favor in a span of about thirty seconds. With two three-setters remaining, Doyle finally conquered her opponent that apparently wished to be doing her lab report rather than playing her match, but after an exciting comeback to take the second set, Gudul was beaten 6-4 in the third.

Compared to past years with Luther, the Knights finally showed this team what they are capable of despite this tight loss, and this determination will hopefully shine through this coming weekend against the University of St. Thomas and Concordia College – Moorhead.

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

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