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The Carletonian

No. 20 Women’s Tennis cruises past Grinnell

<t the Grinnell College Pioneers, were the team paving the way this weekend as the Carleton women’s tennis defeated Grinnell solidly, 9-0, last Saturday.

While no team member even lost a set, Sarah Thappa ’12 blazed through her matches with a sound 6-3, 6-0 victory in singles and an 8-1 victory in doubles with partner Katherine Greenberg ’14.

Thappa attributes her quick individual wins and the team’s impressive performance overall to strong starts in the matches. The team has been working all season to improve on getting an early lead and the Grinnell match showed the fruits of its labor.

“We came out strong from the beginning and walked out on the court with the attitude that this may be a tough match but we are going to give it our all and fight,” said Thappa. “I thought everyone played well and was composed on court.”
Maintaining composure is another of the team’s signature objectives, along with staying focused and maintaining that early lead.

“I believe our quick victory can be attributed to coming on the court with energy from the beginning and staying aggressive the whole pro set,” said Thappa. “Overall, I would say patience, presence on court, and the belief that we were the better team led to quick victories.”

The emerging confidence of the team is not unfounded. The Knights are now 14-4, undefeated in the MIAC, No. 20 in the nation, and No. 6 in the region.

 “At a certain level, understanding the psychology of the game and competition is the most important aspect for me and for the team,” said head coach Luciano Battaglini. Despite the improvements the team has already made in the mental part of the game, “this is a work in progress for our team and we have been discussing this topic since last fall. It is important for our players to learn how to compete hard and get engaged without feeling too much pressure or anxiety. That’s why focusing on development and positive things are more important than focusing on losing or winning to us.  If we try hard, and learn how to enjoy the game in good and bad moments, players will most likely feel less anxious during the most critical games of a match.”

For the team’s upcoming match against Gustavus Adolphus College, both Battaglini and Thappa look beyond the historical records and stature of Gustavus, a team that has won the MIAC 25 times in the last 29 years.

 “I think we are just trying to look at it like another match,” said Thappa. “We use our experience from this season and recognize everything we have done well this season. We are continuing our on and off court workouts. The most important thing to prepare is to recognize our accomplishments this season and know that we are strong and will fight to the end.”
Is the Knights’ coach thinking about Gustavus’s history?

 “Not at all, to be honest with you,” said Battaglini. “I try to look at things during the present, without worrying about what happened in the past and in the future.  The game of tennis is only important in the here and now and although I respect the Gustavus tennis program very much, our team will take them seriously just as we would when playing any other team.”
He was equally complimentary of the Grinnell program.

“Grinnell has a great tennis tradition,” said Battaglini, “and although they had a few players injured, they are a very good team and I am sure we will have difficult battles in the near future.”

If the team fights against tradition and brings their impenetrable mindsets to the Gustavus match as they did against Grinnell, the Knights may pull out another 9-0 egg this weekend, breaking a history of losses to the team.
The match takes place on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Bell Field Courts. Stop by to see your underdogs come out with an upset.

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

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