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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s Tennis season ends with MIAC semifinal loss; Gudul and Schmidt move on

<men’s tennis team was again handed a loss in their second straight weekend of competition at Gustavus Adolphus College, but this time around, it signified the conclusion of their season with a loss to St. Olaf College in the semifinals of the MIAC tournament. Like last year, the Knights had their sights set high on a possible showdown in the finals against perennial MIAC champ GAC, but could not overcome the fight and determination of Carleton’s cross-town rival to make it to the finals. 2010 was again a semifinal dogfight, and unfortunately again the Knights could not pull through, finishing in a 3-5 decision after four and a half hours of play.

The chilly drizzles forced both the women’s 9am semifinals inside the Gustavus bubble, so each team only received three courts on which to battle for their playoff destiny. With slow starts in all three doubles matches, the Knights had to wake up and try to dig themselves out of the holes they had created. First doubles again faced a familiar opponent, and after a shaky start that got them quickly down 3-0, they finally began to calm down and put some balls in the court. Erin Gudul ’12 and Kathryn Schmidt ‘12 took the next seven games with much more efficient doubles, and finished their match off 8-4.

Their teammates also rebounded from initial nerves, but by then it was too late and the competition was too great. Francis Leung ’10 and Bridget Doyle ’13 gave their match all the effort they could muster, but getting their heads into it was easier said than done. Their tough opponents capitalized on their early lead and kept the pressure on to defeat the female Knights 8-4. Third doubles was in an intense battle in which stress abounded on both sides. While Sarah Thappa ’13 pulled off some of her famously solid groundstrokes and Hannah Goldberg ’10 executed flawlessly on a few overheads in the clutch, they couldn’t pull out the big points and were defeated 8-6.

Carleton, down 2-1 heading into singles, team huddled and tried to calm down but also get psyched up for some strong singles matches. With only half of the bubble, numbers one, four, and six took to their courts as their teammates split up to cheer. It would not be long before Gustavus finished off their semifinal opponent, so courts on the other side freed up for the Knights to keep plugging away. Kathryn Schmidt ‘12 knew her opponent well, and was able to be decently efficient to stave off the predictable second set comeback from the other side of the court. She even threw in a couple serve-and-volleys because taking time away from her speedy rival was imperative, and she finished her match 6-0, 6-3.

Her doubles partner was the next to finish, and she would take the Knights final point in the win column for the day. Starting strong, Gudul found herself up 5-2, but her opponent simply kept fighting and took Erin to a first set tiebreaker, during which both players stayed levelheaded. The Knight ran her opponent with heavy pace, but also mixed in some high balls for variety, and with this solid strategy she won the tiebreaker 7-4. When she ended up with a 5-2 lead the second time around, she determinedly clinched the set 6-2.

The remaining matches were all locked in battles, but because the Knights’ slow starts in singles as well, Olaf had taken the first set in each of the matches still undecided. Courtney Halbach ’13 at six was moving her opponent every which way with her solid strokes and coming to the net more than usual. She was so close from pulling out the second set as she was up 5-4, but her legs tightened up on her and her hindered movement could not overcome the backboard she had to deal with on the other side, thus resulting in a 6-3, 7-5 loss. Thappa also made every effort to come back, but she too lost in a pair of 6-4 sets.

It came down to the wire, with two essential third-set matches remaining as the Knights were down 3-4, and the teammates joined omnipresent positive energy force Devin Daugherty ‘11 on the bleachers in support. Frances and Bridget had both reworked their strategies and settled down to win their second sets, but the odds were not in their favor as the player who wins the first set of a match traditionally comes away with the third about 70 percent of the time. Both girls tried their utmost, but Leung dropped her third set a disappointing 6-1, clinching the win for St. Olaf. Even though Doyle was on her way to a comeback, the match had been decided and the coaches chose to stop play. The Knights definitely had their shot at playoff success, but only Gudul and Schmidt could put it together that day.

Overall, the Knights had another very strong team season and will display their continued improvement next year. As for individuals, on Wednesday the first doubles duo Gudul and Schmidt learned they are first alternates for the NCAA tournament and await a final decision, and Schmidt is competing in the singles draw May 28-30.

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

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