Women’s Tennis Sweeps Wooster Match 9–0
Doling out an emphatic 9–0 sweep to the College of Wooster Fighting Scots, the Yeowomen earned their first North Coast Athletic Conference win of the season last Friday. After an up-and-down March, in which the eight-member squad faced several nationally ranked teams and grueling multi-match weeks, the Yeowomen have emerged fresh and ready to take on NCAC rival the Kenyon College Ladies tomorrow.
“We’ve played arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country,” Head Coach Constantine Ananiadis said of the season so far. “We’ve seen it all. We have no reason to be intimidated anymore.”
Playing tough competition has paid off so far, as the Yeowomen are currently ranked first in the eastern section of the NCAC and have topped .500. Their spring record stands at 10–8.
Oberlin’s aggressive doubles flourished against Wooster, as the Yeowomen swept all three courts. The first-year pairing of Lena Rich and Delaney Black earned a quick 8–0 win at No. 3.
“Our three first-years are all really athletic, strong, fast and have certainly been a big part of us playing a very different brand of tennis this year — more attacking, more in-your-face,” Ananiadis said. “This is especially evident in doubles.”
At the second flight, juniors Jackie McDermott and Mayada Audeh quickly racked up a 7–0 lead. The momentum threatened to shift when they dropped one game, but they took back the reigns and notched a break in the next game to win 8–1.
Junior Sarah Hughes and senior captain Emma Brezel also finished on top with a score of 8–3 in the No. 1 spot. The pair enjoyed an 11-match win streak earlier in the season, posting impressive wins against nationally ranked teams including Tufts University, which was ranked No. 9 at the time. Last season, the duo won All-NCAC First-Team honors for their doubles performance, and led the Yeowomen in doubles victories. Hughes also earned an All-NCAC Second-Team accolade for her singles play, as she earned a 3–0 conference record.
“The support from my teammates is what I credit my success to this season,” Hughes said. “We’ve all come to realize that we deserve to win just as much as top teams out there, so that change in perspective has made us more competitive and feisty.”
In singles play, Oberlin swept spots one through six. A highlight came on court two, where Audeh battled it out with Wooster’s Rachel Mole. Mole, a three-time all-conference selection and former NCAC Newcomer of the Year, bested Audeh in last season’s match when both players were playing in the No. 1 spot. This year, at the No. 2 spot, Audeh turned the tide and pulled out a 7–5, 4–6, 10–8 third-set tiebreaker win.
At No. 3, Rich won 6–0, 6–1 in her tenth-straight singles win, producing results almost unheard of for a rookie. Rich attributed her success against Wooster to the team’s cohesive vibe.
“It definitely felt like the team approached this match with a unified mindset,” she said. “That mentality inspires us to compete harder for the team and not just play for ourselves.”
The previous weekend, the Yeowomen took on tough competition in three home matches in three days. Oberlin started off losing two straight matches, falling to No. 19 Case Western Reserve University in a competitive 6–3 battle Friday, March 31. The next day, Oberlin dropped a disappointing 7–2 bout to the University of Rochester. Overcoming fatigue, the squad managed to turn it around Sunday, sweeping State University of New York Geneseo 9–0.
Oberlin’s victory over Geneseo was a sneak peek of the team’s upward trajectory. The Yeowomen’s successful day began with an 8–2 doubles victory by Hughes and Brezel, followed by an 8–3 doubles win from McDermott and Audeh. The veteran-rookie combination of senior Olivia Hay and Rich also produced results for the Yeowomen.
Looking forward, the Yeowomen prepare for their final two conference matches against Kenyon College and Allegheny College. The team will travel to Gambier, Ohio, tomorrow to play conference rival the Kenyon College Ladies. Last season, Oberlin fell to Kenyon 6–3 at home on the Yeowomen’s senior day. As the squad looks to avenge that loss, Hughes said she is optimistic about this weekend and beyond.
“Winning conference is a realistic goal we can accomplish this year,” Hughes said. “If we can beat Kenyon this weekend then I believe this year is our year.”
Ananiadis said the team has its eye on the highest prize in the NCAC Championships, which will be played April 28–30 at Kenyon College.
“Our goal each year in the beginning is to win the conference championship,” he said. “We’ve been so close the last several years starting in 2012 when we lost in the finals. Last year we lost to Denison, the eventual winner, in the semifinals in a six-hour long marathon, so we’re right there. Will this be our year? It certainly could be!”