Women's Tennis suffers first loss; resets for spring trip

By Josh Springer

After the team’s most successful start in years, women’s tennis experienced their first road bump in conference play. The No. 11-nationally ranked Gusties swept the Scots 9-0. As a result, the team plans to regroup during their spring break trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina in order to prepare for remaining MIAC matches.After beginning the season with an impressive 4-0 streak the women had hoped to challenge the 16-time defending MIAC champions. “They were definitely our toughest competition so far,” Angie Horner ’10 said. While the final tally does not reflect the team’s effort, a number of strong performances were delivered individually and in doubles play.

Each doubles team won two games against Gustavus, who evidently brought their “number one team” to play against the Scots. “It may be the first time in Mac history that they [Gustavus] played their number one against us,” Jenna Harris ’08 said.

Moreover, none of the women went 0-6 in both matches individually. It is neither unheard of nor uncommon that MIAC teams playing against Gustavus drop every point. Ultimately, the team has not let the recent loss deflate their broader aspirations for the rest of the season.

Dominant wins against St. Olaf, St. Mary’s and St. Catherine’s have established the Scots as one of the contenders for a playoff spot in this season’s race. To qualify for the playoff tournament, the women need to finish among the top six in the MIAC. Currently the team is ranked third.

Regardless of the recent defeat, if the team continues to play the way it has, they will have a great shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2000. After playing in only five matches so far, the team has already equaled their overall win total against MIAC teams from last year.

The Scots are also proud to be the self-proclaimed “best sportswomen” in the conference. “We are the most well-behaved team the MIAC,” Harris said. “We’re always glad to be good sports, because team’s like Gustavus are kind of snotty.”

This past week’s MIAC match results have given the Scots yet another reason to be feeling ready and poised for upcoming competitions. St. Olaf, who the Scots beat 6-3 in this season’s opener, handed the Carleton women a commanding defeat of 8-1. Furthermore, St. Mary’s, a team who Mac beat 8-1, recently knocked off conference rival St. Benedict 5-4.

Given these results, the Scots are situated to close out the season well if they can maintain their composure against MIAC rivals.

“Our coach has a lot of confidence in us,” Harris said. “He told us before the match, ‘Gustavus may be 11th in the country, but you guys are number 1 with me.'”

“We want a rematch against Gustavus,” Horner said. The Scots may have a chance to avenge this past loss if the teams meet again in the playoffs.

Tomorrow, the women will fly to South Carolina. Last year the team returned home with a frustrating 1-4 record against spring break competition. The Scots will look to build off this season’s early momentum with a win against Westminster (Mo.) on the 16th. Matches against Allegheny (Pa.), Grove City (Pa.), St. Michael’s (Vt.), and Centre (Ky.) will wrap up the women’s schedule in South Carolina.

“You never know the quality of players because they come from all over,” Harris said of the competition in South Carolina. “But we’re a lot more of an experienced team this year, so we should do well against anyone.”

The warm, southern climate gives the women their first opportunity to play outdoors this season. “It’ll be so nice to finally get outside,” Abby Critin ’11 said.

The first home match of the season will be against Snelling rival Hamline on March 29th. If the Minnesota weather permits, the women will continue to play outside, hoping to capitalize on their already successful MIAC record.