Saturday, October 17, 2015

NEWITT Hosted By Smith

NEWITT History
Totally Tacky Tennis Practice
Coming off the frolic-filled tradition of Totally Tacky Tennis practice, Smith tennis hunkered down for some serious tennis on October 16-18.  The setting doesn't get any better as the fall colors provided the backdrop for  NEWITT (New England Women's Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament).  Known as the longest running regional collegiate tennis tournament in the nation, the NEWITT, this year, was  a doubles only format. The tournament has taken many forms over the past 40 years and it is still remembered, by most past and present players of division III northeast colleges and universities, as the highlight of the fall season.  Alison Swain, coach of Williams College and former competitor in NEWITT, is this year's director.  She and her committee instituted a compass doubles tournament giving all participating teams maximum opportunity for 
competition.There were fewer participating teams this year  (12 schools) but more individual participation with 3 to 5 doubles teams per school.  Each doubles team was guaranteed two matches on Friday and two on Saturday.  Sunday, October 18 will mark the conclusion of the tournament leading to the eventually champions.  Currently, Amherst and Williams will dominate the main draw.  Teams from MIT, Brandeis, Trinity, Simmons as well as Smith will make up the consolation rounds.  Colby, MHC, Springfield, Wheaton and Babson all had main draw matches on Friday and Saturday but completed their competition by day 3.

Specific to Smith:
Fall at Smith
After careful thought and much juggling due to injury and illness, Day 1 of the NEWITT championship had Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes at number 1 doubles, Noa Dubin and Janan Fugel playing 2 doubles, Dana Smith and Annina van Riper at number 3 and Faith Flowers and Unsa Malik at 4th doubles.  Annina van Riper, plagued by a serious chest cold, had to decline her position leaving Dana partnerless.  Margaret Anne Smith stepped up and partnered with Dana in the first match against MIT while Samantha Peikes took Dana as her partner against an Amherst team.  Unsa and Faith played bravely against Babson in their first round and Wheaton in their second.   Margaret Anne and Samantha suffered a first round loss to Williams and then received a bye. 

Recapping Smith's second day and looking forward to day 3, many positive experiences were visible  on-court along with one win. Sam and Margaret Anne posted a solid "come from behind win" in their first match on Saturday and gave up a close one in the second at their home site.   They moved on to the consolation finals of their flight with a default over MHC.   Faith Flowers proved she has mastered the concept of "flow" in doubles and she became an aggressive net player in her Saturday matches showing her unrelenting courage and risk-taking on court.  Relatively new to the game, Faith is an fearless athlete determined to let nothing hold her back.  Dana showed her adaptability by her willingness to play with most anyone in the tournament.  Noa and Janan really understand the meaning of patience as they waited and waited and waited some more to go on.  When finally on court, they had two close matches running out of numbers on the scorecards!   Four Smith players were assigned to Bay Road Tennis Club for their matches and they were on a first name basis, by the end of the day, with Simmons and grateful to their coach for coaching (when we had mixed teams) as well as driving!

The Lindsay Morehouse Award
The Lindsay Morehouse award, commemorating the death of a Williams tennis team alum during 911, was presented on Saturday morning. This year's award winner was Victoria Tam from MIT.  A well-deserving recipient, Victoria accepted the award showing awe and humility.  Congratulations, Victoria.

Sunday order of play
All Matches at Smith.  Starting time: 10am 

East Finals:  Shin/Raventos (WILL) vs. Ip/Chen (AMH)
West Finals: Peters/Downey (MIT/SIM) vs. Irmer/Aisks (AMH)

East 3rd Place: Bush/Cancio (WILL) vs. Sung/Calla (AMH)

East backdraw: Gancayco/Hart (WILL) vs. Monteagudo/Ghosh (AMH)

North Finals: Ferjanic/Babunski(TRIN) vs. Frayley/Yang (AMH)

Backdraw finals:

Smith/Piekes (SMI) vs. Liu/Zhuang (MIT)

Marion/Simms (BRA) vs. Isaq/Lehat (BRA)

Chen/Matthews (SIM) vs. Curtis/Dirico (TRIN)

Stone/Saab (WILL) vs. Lindbloom/Weiber (TRIN)
Leavitt/Cohen (BRA) vs. Das/Zhu (MIT)
Cokely/Reinhard (SIM) vs. Eluhu/Neveux (WILL)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

MIT is Number One in Conference For Good Reason

There were definite highlights in the dual match of Smith vs MIT on October 10, at the home of the Engineers, but you will have to look beyond the overall score (0-9) to appreciate Smith's effort against the top team in the conference.    MIT has retained the top status in the NEWMAC conference for good reason.  The players are experienced competitors and the team is deep.   Smith players set their goals to take control of what they could and what they achieved was their best doubles of the season on all three doubles courts. Janan Fugel and Morgan Barney, number 3 doubles for Smith had the best performance staying up with Ava Soleiman and Iris Zhuang early before the Engineers' pulled away with an 8-4 victory.

Behind 0-3 at the start of singles, the Pioneers seemed focused and undeterred and they played with determination.  Noa Dubin has found no easy matches at the number 1 position this season and this day was no exception.  Kohrs, the talented junior from MIT dominated the match from the beginning giving up relatively no unforced errors and claiming the victory 6-0, 6-0.  Margaret Anne Smith at number 2 gave her best analyzing ways to handle the underhand  spin serve that Dora Tzeng delivered but that was not enough as Margaret Anne was able to only claim one game.  Janan Fugel at 4 singles collected good points but had trouble stringing them together for the scoreboard and bowed 1-6, 0-6.  Joanna Kim found herself having to borrow a racket for her singles play after breaking her strings in her other rackets.  She used no excuses and although losing, she gave all that she had that day.  At No. 5, Barney stayed close to sophomore Rena Liu early on only to see Liu pull away to take a 6-4, 6-1 win. Samantha Peikes gave her best effort staying on court the longest but Sonya Das finished things up at No. 3, taking a 6-3, 6-2 win. Sam kept the rallies going and attacked whenever possible.  Her match was competitive and very respectable and a testament to her hard work in preparation for the match was well as her belief in her game.

Overall Smith showed their fighting spirit and their high level of sportsmanship.  The team has gained momentum this season and is looking to the NEWITT doubles championship at Smith October 16-18.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Smith Drops Cliffhanger to Clark 3-6

Smith lost to Clark University in a cliffhanger match 3-6 on October 6 on the road.
The newly formed doubles team got off to a slow start giving Clark a 3-0 lead.  The doubles were reconfigured because Sam Peikes was not able to play due to academic conflict. Sam normally anchors number 1 doubles with Margaret Anne Smith and number 3 singles. The 0-3 loss seemed, at first, to carry into singles as Noa Dubin dropped her first set 0-6 at first singles and  Janan Fugel was down 1-4 at third singles while Morgan Barney was about to lose her first set at 4th singles.

There were glimmers of hope here and there as Annina van Riper entered the lineup at number 6 singles and seemed to take charge early on leading 5-2 in the first set.  Margaret Anne Smith, in her steady, mentally strong way, worked her magic completely derailing and frustrating her opponent with her calm demeanor and her consistency.  At this point, everything seemed to change. Smith began to believe they could compete with Clark and compete they did. The singles players gave their heart and soul to the fight.  Margaret Anne was first off the court with her victory followed by Janan, who came back from being down 1-4 in the first set to winning in straight sets. Noa seemed to reflect the change and got in the fight turning a corner and coming back to power her way to a second set win even though she ended up dropping the third set 3-6. Annina van Riper stayed determined and consistent and brought in a big win in a close two-setter at 6th singles ending in a tiebreak victory.  Morgan Barney and  Joanna Kim, at four and five singles respectively , left it all on court, losing only after three long hard-fought sets that left them exhausted.

The match was in the balance until the very end. With their backs against the wall, Smith showed their grit and determination and belief in themselves and their team. The Pioneers came close to changing the history books. It was a match that could have gone either way and there was no way of knowing until the very end. It was truly the most exciting match of the season as Smith finished after 10pm at Clark.

Smith travels to MIT on Saturday, Oct 10 for the last dual match of the fall season.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Smith Tennis Defeats Emerson 8-1

Dana Smith
Smith hosted Emerson indoors on a cloudy overcast Oct 3.  The Smith doubles found their pace and place in the match giving the Pioneers a 3-0 lead entering singles.  Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes teamed up, once again, to claim the victory at number 1 doubles, this time, 8-0.  The two played with determination moving forward and taking volleys early and offensively. The newly formed team of Noa Dubin and Joanna Kim shared the limelight with an 8-0 win at number 2 doubles powering their way to victory from the baseline and at net. The two seemed to compliment each other's play as they took control of the match from the first point. Morgan Barney and Janan Fugel had the toughest match at number three doubles but stayed positive and ended up winning against Jamie Coconis and Tiziana Valquez 8-5.

The singles players were next. Noa Dubin won 6-0, 6-0 for Smith over Tiziana Valquez of Emerson.  Noa hit a plethora of decisive winners leaving her opponent defenseless.  Margaret Anne Smith played second singles and was the first to finish her 6-0, 6-0 with her newly found aggressive style.  She has added several offensive tools to her already consistent game which she used wisely on this day. Samantha Peikes had a 6-0, 6-0 victory at three singles going to net at every opportunity. Sam's movement and anticipation on the court is becoming better and better and it is making her aggressive strategies more effective. Janan Fugel gave up just one game in her 6-0, 6-1 win answering Gilesea Thomas' strokes one for one and maintaining joy in the heat of competition.  Next on the court was Annina Van Riper who claimed her fifth court singles win 6-0, 6-2.  Her consistency and patience on court were most noteworthy.  She is a student of the game and a hard worker and she continues to raise her game and her competitive level at each match.  Dana Smith played sixth for Smith against Emerson.  She was cheered by her teammates as she competed for the first time at sixth singles.  She showed poise and determination on court and a calm demeanor.  She has shown great improvement in this short competitive season even though she was not able to claim the victory. She lost, this day, in a close 4-6, 3-6 match.

With two conference wins in a row, Smith will be on the road for the next two matches, facing Clark on Tuesday, October 6.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Smith Earns Important Victory Over Springfield College

Smith Tennis hosted Springfield College on Tuesday, Sept 29.  Smith edged Springfield 5-4 in an exciting match to keep their chances alive for the upcoming NEWMAC conference tournament.  The match was played on Smith's outdoor courts with one rain interruption during doubles play.

Margaret Anne Smith, once again, set the tone by singing the national anthem prior to the start of play.  She then paired up with fellow captain, Samantha Peikes, to earn the first doubles point for Smith in conference play this season.  Noa Dubin and Morgan Barney at number 2 doubles and Janan Fugel and Joanna Kim at third doubles were not so fortunate losing to the Pride 8-2 and 8-1 respectively.

Samantha Peikes

Noa Dubin made her comeback, after doubles, in her singles match assuming her aggressive baseliner style and winning over Rachel London 6-0, 6-2.  Margaret Anne and Samantha Peikes went on to earn decisive singles wins as well.  Margaret Anne made Smith tennis history as the first singles player to finish on this particular day.  Usually anchoring the singles play with her counter punching consistent style, Margaret Anne shed that reputation this day and took the lead never looking back  and winning 6-0, 6-0 at number 2 singles.  Samantha played a savvy player with many tennis "tools" but Sam had the right answers in all cases and won 6-1, 6-1.  Janan Fugel and Morgan Barney bowed to their Springfield opponents in straight sets.  Although Morgan Barney was last on the court giving her all, the limelight goes to Joanna Kim at sixth singles.  Joanna is beginning to find  her pace and style on the singles court hitting outright winners to the corners and bringing in the final win for the Pioneers.

It was an exciting day for Smith Tennis as they look forward to hosting Emerson College on Saturday, October 3.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ITA Regional Tournament Provides A Plethora of Experience For All

ITA Highlights
Some of the best division III players in the nation gathered at Middlebury College September 25-27 for the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) regional singles and doubles tournament and Smith College players were among the participants.  Taking the singles title was Eudice Chong of Wesleyan defeating teammate Victoria Yu and Yu and Chong teamed up to win the doubles over Cheng and Likhanskaia of Bowdoin.  The Wesleyan and Bowdoin players will move on to the national ITA later in October representing the northeast region.  We wish them well.

Smith Highlights at the ITA
Margaret Anne Smith
The three representatives from Smith took the challenge this weekend and gave their best and much was gained from the experience.  The three individuals representing Smith were Noa Dubin, Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes. Noa and Margaret Anne represented Smith in singles and Margaret Anne paired up with Samantha Peikes in the doubles.  All three players came with the attitude to compete and compete they did.   Collectively, they played a total of 10 matches over the course of 2 days!  There is only one draw for this tournament and there are no easy matches as each school brings the top players in their line-up.  In the main draw, Noa Dubin competed against Karen Kremchenko of Brandeis and Margaret Anne Smith drew Pilar Giffenig of Bowdoin.  In doubles main draw, Smith and Peikes found themselves against second seed and eventual finalist Cheng and Likhanskaia of Bowdoin.  The Smith players, undaunted by their main draw losses, immediately signed up for singles only competition on day 2.  Dubin drew Dasha Dubinsky (Wesleyan) in first round of the back draw losing 1-8 and went on to take on Korina Neveux of Williams dropping the proset 1-8.  Samantha Peikes joined the singles players on day 2 and was pitted against Lauren Amos of Middlebury where she fell 0-8 and then took on EmilyOlson of Wellesley for an 0-8 loss.

Once again, Margaret Anne Smith came through for Smith College losing her first match to Timo Iwasaka of Tufts (2-8) and then rebounding for the important win against Isabella Gorham of Wheaton 9-7.  In true to form style, Margaret Anne analyzed the situation applying pressure at the right time and outlasting the opposition with her determination and consistency.  It was just a week ago that Izzy Gorham took a match and point from Peikes in dual match play!  Smith Tennis was able to end the weekend on a high posting a win before returning to Northampton.

What Is Next?
Smith is back in action on Tuesday, Septemeber 29 against rival, Springfield College.  Smith must win this match as well as to notch wins over Clark and Emerson to qualify as the final team to be selected to the NEWMAC conference tournament in October.  The match is slated to start at 4pm and all are invited to come and support the Pioneers on their home courts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

MHC Took The Title

Mount Holyoke Tennis came to challenge Smith on Tuesday, September 22 and took home the gold defeating the Pioneers 9-0.

Mount Holyoke opened with a doubles sweep as the  Ayame Yazawa and Margaux Holloschutz notched an 8-3 win over the Pioneers' duo of Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes. At second doubles, Alexa Colas and Ishita Tibrewal earned an 8-2 win over Smith's Noa Dubin and Morgan Barney.   Rounding out the doubles action was the third doubles of Madison Rosen and Amy Chen, who powered their way to an 8-1 victory over Pioneers' Joanna Kim and Annina Van Riper.

Smith turned to their singles strength but it was not enough.  Noa Dubin played with more and more confidence as the match progressed but was not able to outlast Ayame Yazawa, who took first singles 6-3, 6-3 .   Samantha Peikes lost to Holloschutz 6-4, 6-0 at second singles in a hard hitting court battle where, at one point, Sam was seen diving across the court to save a point.   Morgan Barney ran down every shot she could but lost to Colas 6-0, 6-1 at four singles.  Joanna Kim bowed to Clara Wang 6-1, 6-0 in spite of her honed weapons, while Michelle Cai was the winner at six against Smith's Annina Van Riper.  Van Riper earned three games at the number six singles position ending with a 2-6, 1-6 loss.  The thriller, however, was on court three where Margaret Anne Smith kept Ishita Tibrewal on the court in a battle for three and a half hours ending in a 7-5, 0-6, 1-0 (10-8) victory for Tibrewal.  Rallies averaged 30 to 40 hits.  Concentration was never more readily witnessed.  The third singles players from both teams served as a role model of sheer determination and fortitude.

The exhibition players of Dana Smith and Faith Flowers held their ground and challenged Katie Shumacher and Madisen Rosen in both singles and doubles.  The Lyons held the wins in all exhibition positions.  A special acknowledgement goes to Janan Fugel who bravely sat the bench with a sprained ankle but who was ever present and invested in the play this day!  Unsa Malik also joined the team on the sideline today and will look forward to suiting up in the future for the Pioneers.

Both teams return to action this weekend, competing at the 2015 ITA Northeast Regionals, hosted by Middlebury College. The action begins on Friday and runs through Sunday.