Yeowomen Destroy Baldwin Wallace in First Women’s Tennis Match of the Year

Rose Stoloff, Staff Writer

The beginning of a new season can often be tricky. Players have to get back into the competitive mode of playing while simultaneously adjusting to both the new roster of players and distractions of the fresh semester. Not so for the women’s tennis team, however, which opened its spring season flawlessly on Saturday, defeating both Baldwin Wallace College and Ursuline University 9-0 at home.

Coach Constantine Ananiadis said he uses the first matches of the season to get back into what he calls “match mode.”

“You can practice all you want, but if you don’t play matches — real ones, not just against teammates — you’re never truly ready to compete,” said Ananiadis. In their first match Saturday morning, the Yeowomen certainly proved themselves prepared to compete this coming season.

Sophomore Grace Porter and senior Farah Leclercq, the first doubles pairing, began the day with a rather straightforward 8-2 victory over their Baldwin Wallace opponents Rebecca Mittler and Kelsey Blatt.

For Leclercq, the match was especially exciting as this is her first year playing for the Yeowomen. After transitioning from Division-I tennis at Florida Gulf Coast University, Leclercq took a year off to focus on other things.

After a particularly negative experience playing Division-I, Leclercq said, “There was a point where I was angry with tennis, but I really missed it and now I’m glad to be back.” She particularly appreciates that Oberlin emphasizes different priorities than her Division-I team does. “When I came here I realized a different form of discipline,” she said. “It’s less about ‘you have to win otherwise you’ll lose your scholarship’ and more of ‘you have to play your best and you have to have fun.’”

Leclercq said she was proud of her performance, and attributed her success in part to her chemistry with her partner, calling Porter’s performance “beautiful.”

The day continued with a streak of victories. Though Baldwin Wallace’s second doubles team was forced to forfeit due to injury, the third doubles match was well fought. First-year duo Erin Johnson and Ariana Abayomi played a close match and triumphed 9–7.

The singles matches were also hard-fought battles, and the Yeowomen took all six victories. Leclerq played the No. 1 singles match and dominated with a 6–3, 6–0 victory. Junior Captain Brenna Sheldon played second singles and won easily, 6–0, 6–1.

Though Sheldon modestly described her performance as “decent,” the scores of her matches and her teammate Leclercq say otherwise. “Brenna dominated 100 percent,” said Leclercq, who plays next to Sheldon and watches when she can.

The victories continued, with only one modest stumble in the fourth singles match up. First-year Erin Johnson had what Ananiadis called a “tricky opponent,” and though she couldn’t quite defeat her in the first set, Johnson managed to come back and won the two subsequent matches assuredly.

Later in the day, the Yeowomen took on Ursuline College, and once again dominated with much ease. Just as they did earlier in the day, the Yeowomen won all three of their doubles matches and all six of their singles matches.

Of particular note were Porter and Leclercq, who did not let their opponents score a single point against them in their singles matches.

“We’re off to a solid start and can’t wait for the next match,” said Sheldon. Despite having lost five seniors to graduation, the team gained three new first-years as well as Leclercq, and Sheldon thinks the new lineup looks promising.

“This year we have a lot of potential,” she said. “But we’re younger and less experienced.” Though the rest of the season will bring much tougher competitors, Sheldon says she is very optimistic. “We have a deep lineup of devoted girls and we work hard in practice, so things will fall into place.”