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Tennis finishes 6th in New England

By Elizabeth Quinn

Two weeks ago, the women's tennis team finished their season by sending three representatives to the Middlestates Tournament in New Jersey. Christy Alvord '89, Stacey Chinn '89, and Fiona Tan '91 all faced extremely challenging matches against higher division and All-American players.

Alvord started the tournament well, winning her first round match (6-4, 6-3) against Jackie Michel of Wheaton College. She later lost in the second round to tournament #2 seed and two-time All-American Joli Harvanik of Trenton State.

Tan and Chinn began differently, both losing their first round matches. Chinn was defeated by Division I player Margaret Milicic of Lehigh University, who eventually played in the quarterfinals. Tan's loss was to Division II player Karen Kieffer of Shippensburg State College.

But Tan made a good comeback in her second and consolation round matches, defeating Lisa Ipp of Haverford College (7-5, 6-1) and Julie Balthaser of Marywood College (6-3, 6-1). She continued playing well and made it to the quarterfinal consolations, where she was defeated by Brownwyn Williams of Division I Mount Saint Mary's College (6-0, 6-3).

"We didn't do as well as we would have liked," Coach Candy Royer commented, "but this was the strongest field seen at Middlestates in recent years."

Practicing since mid-February, the team began their season with a trip to San Diego over spring break. There they defeated Luther and Palomar Colleges, 8-0 and 5-4 respectively. The team also lost tougher matches against Grossmont College and the University of California at San Diego, 7-2 and 9-0.

An additional loss to the team in California was that of their #4 player, Amita Gupta '91. Reinjuring her shoulder, Gupta was not able to play the rest of the season.

After the Engineers returned home, the season continued with matches against Wellesley and Harvard Colleges. Both opponents defeated MIT 7-2. "The Wellesley loss was very significant" to #3 player Catherine Gioannetti '90. "Because of it, the team became more determined to attain a higher level of competition, and not just play."

This determination paid off in matches to follow, against Williams and Salem State Colleges. MIT defeated the higher ranked Williams (5-4) and swept Salem State (9-0) in their last competition.

The team achieved an overall record for the fall and spring seasons of 14-7, ranking them sixth in New England, the team's first year in the top ten. They also ranked 23rd nationwide, out of 314 Division III schools. Tan did especially well, ranking 46th nationally, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association.

"This is a very exciting time to coach," Royer beamed. "The MIT women's team is really on the move." Royer said she aspires to one day have the team qualify for nationals in both singles and team play. Understanding that this will take some time, she is content with thoughts of perhaps upsetting Skidmore, Wellesley, or Smith in the fall.

"Although we are going to lose good, consistent players" in Alvord, Chinn, and Caroline Zehner '89, Royer explained, "very strong veteran players will be returning," including Gioannetti, Dheera Ananthakrishnan '90, Gupta, and Tan. With a little improvement and competitive drive, Royer looked forward to a very strong season.