Tough Competition Tests Yeowomen
The women’s tennis team split two matches last weekend, knocking off Division II Walsh University 7–2 Friday before falling to Division I Cleveland State 6–1 Saturday.
As a Division III school, Oberlin went into the weekend as the underdog in both matchups. This wasn’t the first time Head Coach Constantine Ananiadis had scheduled these matches against high quality, out of conference competition — heading into the season ranked 38th in the country, Ananiadis considers it beneficial to find bigger fish for his team to fry and to constantly push the Yeowomen to higher standards.
“Playing those strong DII and DI teams sets the bar high for our players,” Ananiadis said. “We can stay in the state of Ohio and play only DIII teams and win 20 matches each year easily, but we wouldn’t really find out how good we really are. Instead, I like loading the schedule with nationally ranked DIIIs, DIIs, and DIs and testing us week in and week out.”
The Yeowomen battled the Walsh University Cavaliers Friday afternoon. From the outset Oberlin established their dominance, sweeping the doubles portion.
Sophomore Sarah Hughes and junior Emma Brezel led Oberlin’s dominant doubles play. They matched up against the Walsh University duo of Sofya Logonuva and Daria Bondareva — a doubles pair ranked 10th in the region — in the top doubles flight. But Hughes and Brezel were unfazed by a top 10 regional ranking as the Oberlin pair cruised to an 8–5 victory.
Hughes said that her and Brezel’s energy and aggressive play were key in their doubles victory.
“I just felt like they didn’t put up a fight, because they weren’t being that aggressive in doubles, and Emma and I were,” Hughes said. “Our aggressiveness ended up working. We were just kind of freely playing; we didn’t feel any pressure.”
In the singles portion of the match, Oberlin’s top two players, Brezel and sophomore Mayada Audeh, could not outlast Walsh University’s Bondareva and Logonuva. Both Audeh and Brezel were defeated in two sets, dropping the top two flights 7–5, 6–4 and 7–5, 6–1, respectively.
However, Oberlin rebounded in lineup positions three through six as Hughes, senior Ariana Abayomi, senior Erin Johnson and sophomore Jackie McDermott all were victorious.
The Yeowomen packed their bags and loaded the bus Saturday to face Cleveland State University. A Division I opponent, Cleveland State represented an even tougher challenge for the Yeowomen. Though Oberlin ended up losing the match 6–1, the Yeowomen’s afternoon was highlighted by a win in doubles as well as a victory in singles play.
Oberlin’s top double pairing of Brezel and Hughes defeated Cleveland State’s Princess Gbadamosi and Mathilde Orange by a score of 6–3. But the win proved inconsequential for the team, as it did not count toward the match score — at the Division I level in tennis, the doubles portion of the match counts for only one point towards the total score.
Oberlin’s single victory came courtesy of sophomore Jackie McDermott, who was slotted at number five in the lineup. McDermott, who earned North Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week for her impressive play, has been a dominant force for the Yeowomen throughout the season. After Saturday’s victory she improved to 7–3 in her last 10 matches and a team best 15–9 in singles play on the season.
“Being named Player of the Week is such an honor, especially when any of my teammates, who have played incredible tennis this year, could have been chosen,” McDermott said. “I’m really proud of how my game has come along this year, so it’s great to be recognized. I’m also glad that I’ve been able to earn points for my team in singles, and I hope that I can continue to do so as we head into these next few weeks with important conference matches and the conference tournament.”
Head Coach Ananiadis said that he was more than pleased with the way his squad has shaped up so far this season, commenting on the integral impact that improvements to the team’s double play have had.
“We’re coming along nicely, and I feel like we’re peaking at the right time,” Ananiadis said. “Our doubles is clicking finally and our singles has always been our strength. So we can now get points in both singles and doubles, which is nice. The first part of the year, we were a ‘singles only’ team which put a lot of pressure on us playing from behind a lot after the doubles.”
Now with an 11–8 record, the Yeowomen will look to finish the season strong with the two remaining conference matches they have left in the season.