Women's Tennis Earns RespectBy Carol Matsuzaki
The MIT women's tennis team lost to Amherst College last Friday and to Williams College last Saturday, but proved to themselves and others that they can physically and mentally compete among the best. The final match scores were 2-7, and 1-8, respectively, but many close battles lie beneath those numbers.
The Friday match against Amherst was the team's first home match of the spring season. In singles play, Captain Valerie Tan '94 came very close to taking the first set, but fell short in an intense tie-breaker, and lost the match 7-6, 6-2. Hana Ohkawa '94 put her all into every point and also went to a tie-breaker in the first set, but took a respectable loss, 7-6(5), 6-4. Janet Chen '94 showed the true spirit of determination, as she took the second set into a tie-breaker after losing the first set 6-2.
Nicole Mitchell '94 relied on her consistent play and fluid strokes to try to out-rally her opponent but lost 6-4, 6-3, a matter of just a few strokes. Though Sarah Kringer '97 dropped the first set 6-4 and was behind in the second set 1-4, she came back to win that set 6-4. Her opponent rallied back to win the third set 6-1. Seetha Ramnath '96 had an extremely close three-set match as she came in with fiery shots and took the first set 6-4. Her opponent regrouped and took the next two sets 6-4, 6-1.
The match score at this point was 6-0 in favor of Amherst, but MIT went into the doubles portion of the match full of confidence and determination.
At first doubles, Tan and Carol Matsuzaki '95 played solid, intelligent doubles. After dropping the first three games of the first set, they regrouped to play the best doubles that they had played together, and they decisively won the match 6-4, 6-2. At second doubles, the team of Ohkawa and Mitchell played an extremely close match and lost 6-3, 7-5.
At third doubles, Ramnath's dependably solid groundstrokes complemented Chen's quickness and stellar volleying. After losing the first set 6-2, they got it into gear and had total control of the rest of the match with superior returns of serve and smart, deep lobbing, winning the match 6-3, 8-6.
Though a little drained from the Amherst match, the team was determined to put forth its best effort against Williams.
Tan gave a truly awesome effort, barely losing in an unbelievably exciting three-set showdown, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Ohkawa came up against a tough, hard-hitting opponent and lost 6-2, 6-0. Matsuzaki was also involved in quite a battle, but lost in a photo finish, 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3.
Chen had an incredibly grueling match, 6-4, 7-6(3), as both she and her opponent had spectacular retrieves and amazingly long points. Mitchell played some good, solid tennis, but came up short, 6-3, 6-1. Kringer put forth 110 percent effort but was defeated, 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-4.
MIT went into the doubles portion of the dual match down 6-0, yet again they went in with a winning attitude. At first doubles, Tan and Matsuzaki were overwhelmed in the first set 6-1, but gave a respectably solid performance in the second set, losing only one service break, while dropping the set 6-4. At second doubles, Ohkawa paired with Miranda Fan '95, substituting for Chen who left with an injury, and was victorious, 5-2. The third doubles team of Mitchell and Ramnath went on the court without a lot of experience playing together, but put in a gallant performance, losing 6-3, 6-2.
It is unfortunate the team could not get a win, but team members still won the respect of themselves and others. The team also gained a lot of encouraging match-play learning experience that cannot be acquired any other way. Although the team still has a way to go, it has come a long way and has shown that it can rise to the occasion of these challenges in a consistent manner.
"We showed that we were top-notch competitors," Chen said.
The team hopes to build upon its success as it leaves today for the Middlebury Tournament in Vermont.