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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s Tennis stays unbeaten in MIAC with pair of wins

< a week of sun, seafood, and Southern accents, coming back from spring break in South Carolina to snow-covered courts did not discourage the Knights women’s tennis team.
The Knights have already shown their fierce competition as the No. 29 team in the nation, boasting a 9-3 record (7-0 MIAC).

The Knights’ matches in Hilton Head, S.C. offered some of the toughest competition in the nation. Teams, such as no. 4 University of Chicago challenged the Knights perfect 7-0 record.

“Strategy, level of play [against the higher level teams] is just completely different from what we normally see,” said Molly Hemes ’14. “For us we really have to play our A-game and bring out everything we have. The main thing is to just get the ball in and make them play the point.”

By the end of the week, the Knights garnered one win against Allegheny College (8-1) while falling in hard-fought matches against No. 4 University of Chicago, 1-8, No. 14 DePauw University, 3-6, and No. 47 Division II school, Erskine College, 3-6.

Kathryn Schmidt ’12 and Erin Gudul ’12, the #10 ranked doubles team in the region, brought their A+ game against Chicago, winning the sole point for the Knights, walloping Chicago’s previously undefeated doubles team and two-time defending national champions. On the coattails of this impressive doubles win, the #12 regionally ranked duo of Bridget Doyle ’13 and Anne Lombardi ’14 bested Erskine’s number two doubles team 8-4 for Carleton’s only doubles win of the match.

Despite these dominating power combos, Coach Luciano Battaglini believes the team can still improve.

“In my opinion, our team needs to do a better job in doubles,” said Battaglini. “More specifically, we need to do a better job at the net, understanding when and how to poach and close in and how to put pressure on our opponents early on. In addition, we need to be able to improve our overall level of fitness as a team if we are seriously thinking about competing against the best schools in the country.”

Of 36 total individual matches, 11 were decided by tiebreakers, revealing how tight the matches were.

“In tennis, it is very easy to feel great whenever you are ahead of the score, but ‘tennis character’ is really measured when you are behind the score and you are trying to change things around in order to change the outcome of the match,” said Battaglini. “I think our team is learning how to compete hard, and also feel more comfortable with the pressure encountered in close matches without taking things too personal.”

Back on campus, the Knights pursued further victories within the conference against the College of Saint Benedict and Macalester College. With gained confidence, team unity, and beautiful tan lines from Hilton Head, the Knights posted wins against Saint Benedict, 7-2, and a satisfying shut-out against Macalester, 9-0.

“This weekend it was great to see my teammates focus on each individual match while also supporting and cheering for the team,” said Gudul on the team’s newfound motivation.
Despite these solid wins, the Knights were challenged by the windy weather conditions, outdoor play, and new courts. While the team welcomes new outdoor Bell Field courts, these courts were unsuitable for play last weekend because of lingering Minnesota snow. Instead, the team was thankful to use the courts at Northfield High School for both matches.

“We handled [the conditions] really well,” said Hemes. “When you’re dealing with the weather conditions you just have to make sure you’re getting the balls in and making [the opponent] play the point. You really have to block out all the external things and really focus and stay mentally tough during those matches.”

Battaglini believes the team’s efforts may lead to a promising future.

 “I expect very tough matches, but I know that if everyone is willing to try hard and work as a supportive group, we will have a great chance to compete well against anyone,” said Battalgini.

This upcoming weekend the team travels to Madison, Wis. for the elite Midwest Invitational Tournament where they will play their first match on Friday against Denison College. Following this competitive tournament, they return to play St. Olaf at home on Wed., April 13 where they expect to see you there.

Felicity Flesher is a member of the women’s tennis team.

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