Women’s Tennis Racks up Points in Season Opener

Shahab Raza

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Perhaps the most impressive part of the display put on by the women’s tennis team last Saturday at John W. Heisman Fieldhouse was how incredibly routine it was. The Yeowomen came out in their double-header with an unassuming nonchalance, losing only one of nine matches against Baldwin-Wallace College and then repeating the feat a few hours later against Malone University. In many ways the day was representative of the program in general — quietly confident rather than flamboyant, but unrelenting and tenacious. The girls showed no signs of rustiness early Saturday morning and immediately got into their stride, not letting up the entire day.

The fun started in the morning contest against Baldwin-Wallace.

In doubles play, the Yeowomen shot out to a 3–0 advantage. The No. 1 pairing of first-year Grace Porter and senior Finley Gates played the only close match, but they were always in control in their 8–5 win. The other pairings both had ruthless 8–1 matching score-lines.

In five of the six singles matches that followed, the Yeowomen triumphed, losing just 14 games between them. The only remarkable thing about the singles session was that anyone lost. A manifestation of first-game nerves saw the highly touted newbie Porter go down 1–6, 1–6.

Senior Ariel Lewis is ranked 12th in the Central Region and her ability to make her opponents miss was on display in a comfortable 6–2, 6–0 win. Lewis will be looking to back up her achievements from last year, when she went 24–6, and return to the conference tournament.

At 4 p.m. the Yeowomen were back again, and looked even more fluid and efficient against a Malone outfit that offered even less resistance than Baldwin-Wallace.

In a slight turn of events, sophomore Brenna Sheldon re-injured her back, an injury that limited her last season, forcing senior Emily Thebaut to start in her place. That was the only change from the morning match, and it was a case of the same old as the Oberlin juggernaut rolled on.

The doubles partnerships wasted little time in dispatching their opponents and the three matches finished 8–0, 8–1 and 8–1 in the first, second and third pairings, respectively.

This time around the five winning singles players lost just eight games between them in a very assured collective performance. Among them was Porter, who found her groove in a solid 6–1, 6–3 win. She was visibly confident and in conversation later had a philosophical outlook about her first two matches of the spring season.

“It was a bit of a shock to the system, ” Porter reflected, “but it happened and I’m confident for next weekend.” It was apparent that while the nature of victory was emphatic, no one was going to get carried away, continued Porter. “The nature of the wins is important because it gives us so much confidence going forward. Our team has a lot of potential and it’s been a while since we’ve had all of our girls fit. So there are lots of reasons to be optimistic.”

Looking to the broad future, there are big matches against conference rivals DePauw and Kenyon to come. In between, there is a need for consistent efficiency and this performance was very much in the same vein. It has admittedly been a relatively mild winter in Oberlin and for the women’s tennis team the outlook for the spring is especially bright.

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