Thursday, May 21, 2015

Smith Ivy Day 2015 Includes Tennis

Ella Genasci-Smith at Ivy Day
It was a cloudy start to the 2015 Smith College Ivy Day celebration on May 16, 2015 but the weather cleared and the outdoor alumnae parade and program went on as scheduled.  Four current tennis team seniors graced us with their white dresses and each carried a single red rose.  Ruth Yi, Jordan Dubin, Seema Samawi and Andrea Tanco paraded with their class and the many alums who have come before them.  Our President emphasized gratitude and we are forever grateful for the seniors’ dedication, commitment and leadership they have shared over the past four years.

Jordan Dubin
Academic achievement was again recognized.  Jordan Charlotte Dubin, tennis team co-captain, was acknowledged as the recipient of the Sarah Pokora award for outstanding academic achievement while participating on an athletic team.  She was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and earned Summa Cum Laude honors.  There were many prizes and honors bestowed to graduating tennis players who did participate on the tennis team for a portion of their time at Smith.  Among those individuals receiving recognition were Ella Genasci Smith, Jana Chan and Lindsay Roth.  Hearty congratulations to all who have achieved so much and still found time to make a commitment to Smith Tennis!
Andrea Tanco and family

Ruth Yi and family
Seema Samawi and her Dad
The day did not end after the Ivy Day festivities.  The annual Smith Tennis reception in the afternoon drew over 20 individuals including players and family members from 1985-2015.  The yoking and sharing of tennis experiences is a special piece of the Smith tennis tradition.  A big thanks to all who were able to carve out time from a busy day to come to the courts.  

We look forward to another reunion celebration and tennis reception on May 23 from 3-5pm.  Whether Smith tennis alum, Smith alum, family or friend of tennis, please join us if you are in the area!

Tennis Prowess and Academic Excellence

Margaret Anne Smith
The season has drawn to a close but not without highlights, recognition and celebrations.  Jordan Dubin (15), Margaret Anne Smith (17) and Samantha Peikes (18) led the Pioneers in victories for the spring.  The tennis shot-making of Jordan combined with the patience of Margaret Anne and the tenacity of Sam, made for competitive styles that kept the opponents off balance.  The three very different personalities provided harmony and leadership in varied ways this spring all by example.  They used their energies on court perfecting their style of play and being bold in competition.  All three shared qualities of determination and focus that carried them to successful results.  Jordan and Ruth Yi graduate as senior captains of the tennis team and Margaret Anne and Samantha Peikes will take the helm carrying the momentum forward.  Another Dubin, Noa Dubin, will join the ranks as the team approaches the fall season.  Awards voted on by the team members included Sam Peikes for the Most Improved of the Year,  Ruth Yi as the Most Spirited Player and Christine Yee for the Pam Lalmond award exemplifying a fine example of sportsmanship and competition.  The Coaches' Award this year went to Jordan Dubin for her outstanding end-of-season play and her leadership and enthusiasm for Smith tennis
throughout her Smith career.

Academically, Smith Tennis was near the top of all of the Smith teams earning NEWMAC conference, Seven Sisters’ and ITA honors.  Smith Tennis has earned ITA All-Academic team honors each year consistently since 2005!

There were many individual academic honors on the Tennis Team as well.   Jordan Dubin earned respect from the entire athletic department for receiving (with two others) the Sarah Pokora award for the highest GPA in all of athletics for 2014-2015.

NEWMAC academic awards went to Katie Hazen, Kelli Cheung, Margaret Anne Smith, Jordan Dubin, Christine Yee, Ruth Yi, Andrea Tanco.

The ITA scholar-athlete acknowledgements are named during the summer so that information will be forthcoming.  The 2014 recipients for ITA scholar athlete awards were Margaret Anne Smith, Kelli Cheung, Ruth Yi, Andrea Tanco, Isabelle Eyman, Unsa Malik, Jinan Martiuk, Kathryn Dernbach and Jordan Dubin (in absentia).

Congratulations to all Smith tennis players who continue to find a balance between academic and athletics, who understand the importance and the integral part athletics plays in the educational experience and who are able to carry on the Smith College Tennis Team tradition:

Finish strong
Finish together
Encourage one another
All with grace.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dubin, Peikes and Smith lead Smith Tennis in Final Match Play of the Season

Smith Tennis ended their spring season on an action packed weekend with a pair of 3-6 losses. The Pioneers dropped two close matches on April 18 and 19 to Roger Williams and Nichols College but not without individual achievements, sacrifice, encouragement and competitive match play.

It was senior day for the Pioneers as the beautiful sunny day and outdoor courts at Smith served as perfect setting for the Pioneers' last home match of the season. Andrea Tanco, Seema Samawi, Jordan Dubin and Ruth Yi were all honored for their contributions to Smith tennis over the years. Seema Samawi is a four year veteran never missing a season of competition for Smith.  Also honored was a senior from Roger Williams.

Margaret Anne Smith, once again, started the match on the right note by singing the national anthem. Smith seemed ready to go but so was Roger Williams. Roger Williams had just finished an earlier match that day and proved to be match tough as they took an early 3-0 in doubles.  With their backs to the wall, Smith came out fighting in singles and it looked, for a while, that they might take five of the six singles for the win but the Hawks had other thoughts in mind.

Senior co-captain and number 1 singles player, Jordan Dubin set the stage by putting it all together in singles playing to her full potential. She never allowed her opponent to get control as Jordan attacked, changed direction and kept the Roger Willams number 1, Lauren Smith, off balance throughout Jordan's 6-2, 6-0 victory. First year and number 3 singles, Samantha Peikes, followed suit with a 6-3, 6-3 victory and Margaret Anne, at number 4 singles, brought in a 6-4, 6-1 victory. The battle continued as Kelli Cheung, sophomore, and Ruth Yi, senior co-captain kept our hopes up and held us in suspense at number 2 and 5th singles respectively. They both put up a good fight but in the end Kelli bowed to Katie Hughes in a 6-3, 7-6 match and Ruth lost to Courtney McCarthy 7-5, 6-2 .

The Smith Tennis team regrouped on Sunday morning for a road trip to play Nichols College. The team was, once again, fortunate to have the perfect spring day in New England.  The match was played at the idyllic setting of The Rectory Scool in Pomfret, CT. This day, Smith gained an all-important  doubles point at the number three doubles position. Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes notched an 8-2 victory.  Number one doubles of senior, Ruth Yi snd sophomore Kelli Cheung, were not as fortunate as they had to retire with a 4-3 lead after Kelli took a direct hit in the head by a ball.  Anja Block gained valuable doubles experience playing with Jordan but Roger Williams showed more prowess at 2 claiming the point.

Margaret Anne and Sam allowed Smith to start singles 1-2.  Jordan jumped into action at number 1 singles and claimed a decisive 6-2, 6-1 victory ending her college tennis career on a high note and tying the overall match score at 2-2! Samantha always provides us with excitement and this day was no exception. She claimed the first set 6-2 and then turned around to drop the second set 2-6. A 10 point tiebreak was used to determine the third set.  Sam held on to gain the 10-7 breaker and the victory.  Margaret Anne played the winningest player in Nichol's tennis history. She was toe to toe with Benoit in the first set and she played with sheer determination in the second set but the Roger Williams player had a few too many weapons in her arsenal that day and Margaret Anne lost 6-4, 6-1.  Seema Samawi had her swan song at 4 singles against a big hitter and she bowed 6-0,6-1.  Christine Yee and Katie Hazen rounded out the lineup for the Pioneers giving their best in the competition but it was not enough to secure a win.  Participation was the name of the game on that Sunday. Some  veteran starters sacrificed playing time to allow all who traveled an opportunity to be in the starting lineup demonstrating the highest level of sacrifice and grace.  As the Smith Pioneers end the spring tennis season, we are reminded of the team motto:

Smith Tennis
Finish strong
Finish together
Encourage one another
All with grace

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's So Great About The Seven Sisters' Championship?

So what is so great about the Seven Sisters' Tennis Championship hosted at Smith on April 11 and 12?  If you really want to know, just ask the players who have participated in the event since 1983 until now.

The tournament is an odd round-robin format.  The ITA recognizes only individual results from the event.  There are only 5 participating schools (Vassar, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Bryn Mawr) since Barnard joined Columbia and Radcliffe joined Harvard for the Ivy Championships.  So what is so special about this event?  The participating team members will tell you about the healthy rivalry, the ability to compete against each school without tournament elimination, and the special shared camaraderie between players and coaches.

One highlight has always been the dinner accompanied by team introductions and an honoring of the seniors.  With four seniors on the Smith team, the moment was all the more meaningful.  Senior Andrea Tanco ran the tournament desk while seniors Seema Samawi, Jordan Dubin, and Ruth Yi all brought in wins for the Pioneers over the weekend.  Smith ended the first day 1-1 with a win over Bryn Mawr and a loss to Vassar. Day two brought Smith face to face with MHC on the MHC indoor courts, a distinct advantage for the Lyons.  The match ended with a 1-4 loss followed by a fast return to the Smith site to take on Wellesley (0-5).   All team members contributed to match play whether in the line-up, exhibition positions, cheering from sidelines or involved in the banquet introductions.  Alexandra Steck and Christine Yee both made appearances in the starting line-ups and Katie Hazen competed in exhibition.  The successes were not limited to the seniors as Margaret Anne Smith (sophomore)  and Samantha Peikes (first year) each earned a Smith point against Bryn Mawr with Sam bringing in a second point in a heart- stopping comeback tiebreak against Mount Holyoke College.  While Sam was earning her win, Margaret Anne was engaged in what may be a Guinness Book of Records' longest rally with hundreds of balls hit back and forth on just one point of a single game and the longest first set ever against MHC's Ishita Tibrewal that lasted over two hours.  Ishita finally prevailed going on to gain momentum and the second set.  Additional Pioneers who helped bring in the six point total for Smith on Sat and Sun were Kelli Cheung and Anja Block.  A special congratulations to Samantha Peikes and Margaret Anne Smith for being selected to the All-Tournament Team.

The story does not stop here as all teams gathered for the traditional banquet where teams mixed and shared commonalities and interests beyond the realm of tennis.  Karen Kristoff (Smith Admissions officer) offered words of wisdom and each teams' captains made team introductions encapsulating the personality of each team member with a few words and a creative descriptive gift.  Smith captains, Ruth Yi and Jordan Dubin, made a classy presentation and Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes entered the stage to honor our captains.  It was a special evening indeed.

There was excitement, endurance, disappointment, satisfaction, frustration, patience, persistence and the list goes on.  The emotions and the experiences were all rolled into the challenging and long two days.  Former and current team members not in the match came to be a part of the event.  Megan Carter and Ella Genasi Smith, two current students and former team members stayed through the Saturday matches.  Vida Chen, in her residency program in CA, delayed her visit to support Smith while reminiscing about her Seven Sister Tennis days.  President McCartney and her husband graced the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility to cheer for Smith Tennis.  So what is so great about the Seven Sisters' Tennis Championship?  Just ask someone who has been there.  In spite of the sacrifices, barriers, obstacles, weather issues and court availability that is inherent to most tournaments; the team surmounted the obstacles and became tougher competitors and, most importantly, created Seven Sister Tennis memories to be treasured for a lifetime.

Overall Standings
5.Bryn Mawr

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Smith Triumphs 5-4 in Cliffhanger Match

Smith Tennis hosted Colby-Sawyer on Friday, April 3 on the indoor courts.  The  Pioneers  outlasted the Chargers 5-4 with a dramatic finish at sixth singles.

Both teams were sans number 1 players for separate reasons but it did not deter the enthusiasm and fortitude of  either team. Colby-Sawyer took the early lead in doubles play at 1 and 2 doubles in a hard hitting contest. Number 3 doubles of Smith veteran Seema Samawi and first year, Anja Block, held on to take three doubles. It was 2-1 for the Chargers going into singles play.   Was Smith prepared and ready for the challenge?  It would remain to be seen as the Chargers clung to the lead for the majority of the match. The first singles to finish was Seema at number 4 singles. She gave her "all" in doubles and was forced to retire at 2-2 in the first set. Smith now had their backs against the wall with a 1-3 deficit when Sam Peikes and Margaret Anne Smith rose to the occassion with decisive wins at number 2 and 3 singles respectively.  The match score was now tied at 3-3.  Colby-Sawyer's number 1, Ashley Woodside, quickly stole the lead back for CS by defeating Kelli Cheung in straight sets.  With the two matches remaining , Colby Sawyer had a 4-3 lead putting pressure on Smith to win at both 5 and 6 singles in order to claim the win. Ruth Yi was undaunted by the challenge as she rallied her way with patience to a 6-3, 6-3 win bringing the score to 4-4. The lone deciding match was number 6 singles, Badriyyah Al-Sabah. Could this sophomore in her first ever singles collegiate match come through for Smith?  All of those in attendance were on the edge of their seats and all eyes were on this talented athlete from Kuwait. She dug deep to answer each and every shot she received. Patient, albeit nervous, Badriyyah ran down wide balls, pulled her opponent to the side and hit carefully constructed passing shots past her to secure a 6-0, 6-1 victory!  The smile on Badriyyah's face at the end of the match said it all. Smith edged out a victory over a team that has dominated Smith the last two years.  Congratulations to the Smith Pioneers on a hard fought win over a formidable opponent.

Smith will host the historic Seven Sisters' Championship on April 11 and 12. The biggest question may be whether the tornament will be outside. Spring is coming!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Smith Challenges Connecticut College and Simmons But Cannot Secure The Win.

The Smith Tennis Team hosted Connecticut College Saturday, March 28 and Simmons College on March 29.  The final match score on both days both was 2-7 but the competition each day was much closer then the scores indicate.  Both matches were started with the national anthem sung by Margaret Anne Smith.  Her beautiful voice resonates through the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility offering an inspiring appropriate start to match play.

On Saturday, the Camels from Connecticut arrived to the Smith campus after losing 3-6 to MHC but their spirits were not dampened as they shut out Smith in doubles and gained 4 victories in singles. At one point Smith had the upper hand on the third doubles court. Seema Samawi and Kelli Cheung were up 7-4 but failed to close out the match allowing the Conn. College pair to rally back for a 9-7 victory.  Co-captains Jordan Dubin and Ruth Yi took the number 2 doubles to a tiebreak but the duo could not convert the win ultimately losing 7-9 in the tiebreak.  In singles, Samantha Peikes and Seema Samawi settled the score with two well fought wins. Sam's courageous rush and crush style served her well against Warren from Conn. College as Sam turned a 7-5, 4-6 split set into a victory by capturing the deciding tiebreaker 10-6. Seema fought through her first set with new found patience to defeat Conn College's Kalia with a 7-6 (7-5 breaker) before cruising to a decisive 6-1 second set for the win.

Sunday, Smith returned to their home courts to take on Simmons College.  Even though Smith juggled line-up combinations, Simmon's doubles were too strong for the Pioneers leaving Smith down 0-3 at the start of singles. Dubin was forced to withdraw in singles because of a foot injury. Everyone stepped up a position and Ruth Yi entered the line up at number 5 singles. This was Ruth's singles debut after her ankle injury. Hopefully, with a few days rest, Jordan will re-enter the starting line-up on Friday, April 3.  Seema Samawi had a repeat winning performance in singles against Khoury.  Seema's  back to back victories were highlight singles wins for the senior who has served as a loyal member to the Smith Tennis Team all four years.  Margaret Anne Smith re-joined the winning ranks by posting a solid straight set victory over Downey of Simmons. Margaret Anne played with her patient and persistent style outlasting her opponent with a 6-2, 6-1 victory at number 3 singles.

Looking forward to this view!
Smith Tennis will host Colby-Sawyer in the afternoon on Friday, April 3.  Please join us if you are in the vicinity.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break in Newport, Rhode Island Proved a Smashing Success!

Smith Tennis had a decisive 9-0 victory against Salve Regina on Monday, March 16 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Smith College Tennis Team at Newport, RI
Rebounding from the loss to Bates at the end of February, the Smith Tennis Team began to re-group prior to their spring break trip.  The team re-evaluated and reviewed their mission and goals and, as the sport psychologists say about forming cohesive groups, did some new "forming" and "storming" in order to start "performing".

The team adjusted their departure schedule from Smith on Sunday and weathered the cold and windy conditions to arrive in time to cheer for Smith lacrosse.  The lacrosse team also had a weekend match against Salve Regina.

Team members made many sacrifices over the course of the mini break except in terms of cuisine.  Nutrition was a priority and the team took full advantage of the opportunities offered.  From sushi to cheesecake to co-captain Ruth's culinary skills, the team dined in high fashion forming a stronger bond with every meal!

The weekend weather was not yet ready to cooperate for tennis and the tennis team was forced indoors for practice on Sunday and match play on Monday.  The short one hour intense warm up/practice session seemed to energize the group late Sunday afternoon in preparation for match play the following day.

Salve Regina was unable to clear their courts of the snow and ice on Monday and all agreed to play indoors in Providence.  Everyone on the team cooperated with location changes, line-up changes, and doubles partnership changes in order to allow the majority of players a chance to compete.  It is often said that the most valuable members of a team are the ones who can stay positive and make contributions to the team while on the bench.  Ruth Yi, Andrea Tanco and Anje Block should be commended for their positive contribution to the team from the sidelines.

The team was ready when they struck the first ball in doubles against the Seahawks on Monday and the momentum carried over into the singles with all but one player for the Pioneers winning in straight sets.  Smith Tennis showed their support for one another and their on-court competitive potential on March 16 with a solid 9-0 victory.

Smith faces Connecticut College and Simmons at home on March 27 and 28 respectively.  Come join us and see this team in action if you are in the area.