WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Alison Swain is quick to say that her Ephs sixth consecutive national championship is already in the rearview mirror.
But with three All-Americans returning from that squad along with five others, is a seventh title closer than it appears?
"This is a new year, a new team, with new leaders and new freshmen," Swain said. "We definitely have more experience in the middle of the line-up than we did at this time last year, so we're going to use the fall to see where our tennis needs to go before the spring season begins. I think we're all excited to be on the court together again."
Senior captains Kathleen Elkins and Kara Shoemaker will lead the Ephs. Junior Rebecca Curran is also back and those three are the Ephs' All-Americans, Shoemaker at both singles and doubles, Elkins at singles and Curran at doubles.
Shoemaker finished the year ranked fifth nationally and third in the region. She was 20-9 playing one singles for Williams and 27-8 (with Curran) playing one doubles. The Shoemaker-Curran tandem at one doubles finished ranked number five in the nation and number two in the region.
Elkins also had a phenomenal season, compiling a singles record of 21-0 and a doubles mark of 17-8. Elkins was 18th nationally and 10th in the region this year. She was undefeated as the number two singles player for the Ephs.
In addition junior Maria Pylypiv was 27-2 in singles play, while sophomore Alex Stone went 19-4 and junior Monica Pastor, abroad for the fall season, 13-3. Curran went 19-10 in singles play for the Ephs.
"This year we are returning a lot of experience," Swain said. "But Div. III tennis is constantly getting better, there are so many programs continuining to rise, that I think it is our depth that will be key to how we do."
The rest of the roster includes sophomore Maya Hart, who 5-2 in singles action and 10-2 in doubles play before an injury curtailed her freshman campaign; Riqui McCoy, who was 13-2 in singles action as a first-year and freshmen Hannah Atkinson, Linda Shin and Annika Trapness.
"We need our first-years to come in and push the people we have coming back," Swain said. "Last year, what really came through for us in the end was that everybody kept getting better throughout the line-up in the spring. That will need to happen again."
The Ephs open the season this weekend with the annual Lindsay Morehouse Invitational both Saturday and Sunday.