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Women’s Tennis Finishes Stellar Season

By Nisha Singh

This past weekend, the women’s tennis team wrapped up their fall season with the annual New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament. MIT finished 6th in the field of Twenty-four Division III teams from all over New England. The finish is the second best in the history in the program (the team was 5th in 1996).

In the first singles flight, co-captain Mealani K. Nakamura ’00, seeded third, advanced all the way to the semifinals. She faced a tough Middlebury College opponent in the first round, winning 8-5. She then faced Tufts in the second round, a player that she had struggled against during the season. She had no problems this time, winning 6-4, 6-1. In the semifinals, Nakamura crushed Mt. Holyoke for the third time this season, 6-2, 6-0. She faced the top seed from Amherst College in the semifinals, and she fought her for every point, especially in the first set, losing 6-4, 6-1.

In the second singles flight, Kelly J. Koskelin ’02 blanked her Smith opponent 8-0, but lost to Tufts in the second round (the only player she lost to all season) 6-4, 6-0.

In the third singles flight, Julie Koo ’03 advanced all the way to the finals. Seeded third, she also faced Tufts in the first round. Having had a close match with Tufts previously, Koo knew it was going to be a struggle. She came through in three sets, winning 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1, after fighting back from 5-1 in the second set. Koo then breezed through her match with Salve Regina, winning 6-0, 6-1. Koo also faced Amherst (the number two seed) in the semifinals. She played to perfection, walking away with the 6-1, 6-4 upset. Facing the top seed from Williams in the final, Koo fought hard, but lost 6-2, 6-2.

Lowers singles take tough draws

In the fourth singles flight, Jessica Hall ’02 beat Brandeis, 8-2 in the first round, but lost to Tufts 6-1, 6-1 in the second. Considering Tufts was the only team to beat MIT this season, everyone knew they were going to have a tough match if they played them.

In the fifth singles flight, Doana Cecan ’00 had the misfortune of drawing the top seed in the first round, and she was unable to win a game, losing 6-0, 6-0.

Singh faced Brandeis in the first round, a woman that had beaten her in a close match during the season. It was even closer this time, but Singh was unable to come up with the victory, losing in the three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

In the first doubles flight, Nakamura-Koskelin faced a tough Middlebury team, winning 8-5. They then played Endicott, a team that although overmatched, fought extremely hard and kept it close. Nakamura-Koskelin won 8-6, and then beat Brandeis 8-4. They faced the top seeded team from Amherst in the semifinals. Since they had lost to them in a third set tie-breaker during a tournament a few weeks ago, they knew that they were capable of pulling off the upset. However, they fell short, losing 8-3. (Nakamura-Koskelin were seeded third).

In the second doubles flight, Koo-Hall were seeded fourth. They crushed Connecticut College 8-2 in the first round, and USM 8-3 in the second. But they ran into Tufts, who had beaten them during the season, in the quarterfinals, and lost 8-3.

The third doubles team of Singh-Yi Ning Cheng ’02 had to play the number two seed from Williams in the first round, and though they played well, they lost 8-1.

MIT went undefeated in the NEWMAC conference this season and won the conference tournament, as well as the conference sportsmanship award. For her effort, Coach Carol Matsuzaki was named NEWMAC coach of the year. Koo was named NEWMAC rookie of the year, and MIT was all-conference at the first, second, and fourth singles and first and second doubles positions.

“It was quite a season for MIT women’s tennis, not just in terms of results but in terms of playing and practicing as a team and making tennis and each other an important part of our lives. I am proud to be part of such a great team,” Matsuzaki said.