The women’s tennis team’s astounding 8-1 win over LeMoyne College on March 7 provided the momentum they needed to have a successful spring break. The team headed to Los Angeles during spring break to play various local and visiting teams, ending the week with a 2-1 record.
The opening match against No. 12 ranked Carnegie Mellon University provided extremely tough tennis and the Yellowjackets fell 0-9. Although the competition was great, head coach Anna Khvalina believes that several players were capable of winning.
“Carnegie is a really tough team, but some of our girls almost had them,” Khvalina said. “At No. 4 singles, senior Jaymi [Della] split sets, but at that point the match had already been decided so she played and lost a super-breaker, but, I mean, that’s as close as you get.”
Although the Carnegie match was a tough loss, the Yellowjackets won their next match against Chapman University.
“[The Yellowjackets played] some of the best tennis both I and assistant coach Matt Nielsen have seen from the [past UR] tennis teams,” Khalvina said.
UR’s 6-3 win over Chapman came after a strenuous battle by the players. At No. 1 doubles, sophomores Colleen Cross and Alexa Perry defeated Cyrstal Summers and Sabrina Ezekiel, 8-6. Both No. 2 and No. 3 doubles were also looking in favor of UR, but both Chapman teams came back to win each of the matches.
At No. 2, freshmen Jill Grieshaber and Mel Beckmann lost 8-6, to Roxanne Kaiden and Laura Robinson.
At No. 3 doubles, Melissa Sorensen and Jessica Silverman defeated senior co-captain Tessa Baker and freshman Sanjana Prabhakar, 8-5, despite a tough battle.
However, the singles matches were what sealed the victory for the Yellowjackets. Cross defeated Kaiden, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 1 singles. At No. 2 singles, Prabhakar topped Summers, 7-6, 6-0. Perry overpowered Sabrina Ezekiel, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 3 singles.
At this point, the score was 4-2, and the Yellowjackets needed just one win to claim victory. However, No.’s 4, 5 and 6 singles were all down one set, with No. 4 and No. 6 being down 5-0 in the second set. Two of the three singles players then came back to take their matches into a third set.
At No. 4, Della dug out a major win, losing the first set 1-6 and then winning the next two 7-5, 6-3. Similarly, Grieshaber pulled out a win, coming back after a 4-6 first set loss to win the next two sets, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5. Finally, at No. 6 Beckmann lost a very close match to Chapman’s Silverman, 6-4, 7-6.
UR’s final match against California Institute of Technology was a success, as the Yellowjackets won 6-3. UR won at No.’s 2 and 3 doubles, as well as at No.’s 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles.
Both Khvalina and Nielsen are very impressed with the way their team performed over spring break.
“We have improved greatly since our fall season. This is especially seen in our freshmen,” Khvalina said. “For example, Jill’s match against Chapman was the best I’ve seen her play. She was down, but played extremely tough tennis. She was fired up and ready to take the win.”
Nielsen agrees that the freshmen help contribute to the success of the Yellowjackets.
“Sanjana is a very steady, smart player,” Nielsen said. “She is very consistent and can dig out tough wins.”
With the help of the freshmen players and the leadership from the senior co-captains, the women’s tennis team hopes to have a successful rest of the season. Both the coaches and the players are working hard to be ready for the tough competition that they will face.
The Yellowjackets are now 6-5. Their next match will take place at home on April 1 against William Smith College.
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