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Women’s Tennis Remains Undefeated In Conference, Drops Match to Tufts

By Nisha Singh

The MIT women’s tennis team lost their first match of the season to Tufts University by a margin of 6-3 last Thursday. However, the team bounced back on Tuesday, beating Wellesley College in a 5-4 thriller at home to remain perfect in the New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference.

In doubles play against Tufts, Co-Captain Mealani K. Nakamura ’00 and Kelly J. Koskelin ’02 won 8-4, while the second doubles team of Julie J. Koo ’03 and Jessica Hall ’02 lost by the same score. Nisha Singh ’00 and Yi-Ning Cheng ’02 lost 8-1 at third doubles, and the fourth doubles team of Priscilla P. Cheung ’02 and Ann Hsing ’02 also lost.

Down 2-1 going into singles, the players knew their had their hands full. Nakamura won 7-6(1), 6-1 after trailing 5-3 in the first set. Koskelin suffered a rare loss at second singles, 6-3, 6-0. Koo rose to the occasion and won 6-1, 6-4 at third singles, while Hall lost 6-2, 6-3. Doana Cecan ’00 lost her first set 6-0, but battled back, only to eventually lose the second set 7-5. Singh lost 6-1, 6-2 at sixth singles, but Cheng won 8-5 at seventh singles. Phebe Y. Wang ’02 also won at eighth singles.

“I am extremely proud of the way we played today. Tufts has a very skilled team, and we rose to the occasion. We have another tough one in Wellesley coming up, and we need to keep focused on individual and team goals,” said head coach Carol Matsuzaki after the match.

MIT squeaks by Wellesley

Matsuzaki could not have been more right about the Wellesley match, as it came right down to a few points. In doubles, Nakamura and Koskelin won 8-4 at first doubles, while the second and third doubles teams of Koo and Hall and Jean Yang ’00 and Hsing lost 8-5. Singh and Cheng won 8-3 at fourth doubles.

Going into singles, MIT was once again down 2-1 as they were against Tufts. However, playing conference arch-rival Wellesley was enough to get their blood flowing despite the cold conditions. Nakamura destroyed her opponent 6-1, 6-0 at first singles. Koskelin got off to a rough start at second singles, losing the first set 6-0. However, she bounced back, winning the second and third set 6-2.

Koo also found herself trailing early in the match, 5-2. However, she came back to win the first set 7-5, and the second 6-2. Fourth singles proved to be the match of the day. Just as she did against Colby, Hall came through when it really mattered. After dropping the first set 6-3, she battled back to win the second set in a tie-breaker 7-6.

At this point, MIT needed one more victory to claim the match. Hall trailed 4-3 in the final set, but she dug deep and pulled out an improbable 6-4 victory that caused MIT to storm the court in celebration. Fifth singles was also a fantastic match. Cecan lost the first set 6-4, but won the second 6-2. Trailing 5-1 in the third set, she fought back to 5-4, but couldn’t quite pull off the comeback, losing 6-4. Singh lost 6-1, 6-2 at sixth singles, as did Cheng and Yang at seventh and eighth singles, 8-3 and 8-4.

Matsuzaki had the following words after the match: “A battle of wills more than anything, including tennis. We definitely did well in the last hour of play. But we must do a better job of getting into it faster, especially as the term gets more hectic.”

MIT hosts Brandeis in a non-conference match on Thursday, and goes for the perfect conference season against Smith, at home on Saturday.