Dominant is not a strong enough word to describe how well the women’s tennis team is playing right now.

Unfortunately, UR’s most dominant player, junior No. 1 singles and doubles player Joanna Toke, will not be competing at the University Athletic Association Championships this weekend.

Toke has to skip the tournament because she is taking the MCATs, but the Yellowjackets are confident they can win without her, in part because of their recent success.

“Everyone’s strong play recently should provide some confidence in the depth of the team and our ability to cope with not having our No. 1 singles and doubles,” coach Anna Khvalina said. “We will have some very tough competition there and it is certainly unfortunate that we will not have the entire team. Despite not having Joanna, we expect to do well.”

UR defeated Hamilton College 9-0 on Saturday and then swept Skidmore College 9-0 on Sunday. The Yellowjackets have not lost a match in three straight meets and are now 12-3 this year, including the fall season.

“I think that the last three matches and especially the Skidmore match does give us momentum heading into UAAs this weekend,” Khvalina said.

UR did not lose a single set in the victory over Skidmore, and only dropped one set while defeating Hamilton. UR also did not lose any sets in a 9-0 victory over William Smith on Wednesday, April 3.

“I think not losing a set in nine matches against a team we barely beat this fall does show we are playing well right now,” Khvalina said.

The Yellow-jackets have clearly come a long way since defeating Skidmore 5-4 on Oct. 6, but they cannot relax now.

A strong showing at the UAA Championships could earn UR a spot in a postseason tournament.

Joanna Toke

Toke may not be competing at the UAA Championships, but her season is far from over.

“I’m looking forward to going to nationals in May,” Toke said. “Hopefully, the team will also make regionals, and [senior] Rachel Sandler and I have a chance of going to nationals for doubles.”

Toke is 21-4 in singles this year, with two of those losses coming at nationals in the fall.

She has only lost two games in her last three matches, but she is still trying to improve.

“I would have to say that the biggest keys to my game are my groundstrokes. I have a pretty solid baseline game and I can change it up when I need to,” Toke said. “I am currently trying to improve my net game because it would add another dimension to my game.”

Khvalina believes that Toke’s potential for success this season is almost limitless.

“How good is Joanna? Good enough to be No. 2 nationally. How well can she do? As well as she wants to,” Khvalina said. “It largely depends on the amount of time she dedicates to tennis during that particular year and how much she enjoys working on it.”

Toke and Sandler are also 21-4 in doubles. They are 8-1 this spring and have won five straight matches.

Khvalina would not be surprised to see Toke thrive at nationals this spring after placing second in the country in the fall.

“If she can get herself pumped up and look forward to competing, she is capable of anything,” Khvalina said.

Jacobs can be reached at bjacobs@campustimes.org.



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