2014 Women’s Tennis Spring Season Outlook
Ephs return three All-Americans and six players ranked in top 20 in Northeast
in their quest for a record 7th straight NCAA title
WILIAMSTOWN, MA – In the fall portion of the 2013-14 season, the Williams women's tennis team won all four of their dual matches and posted strong showings at NEWITTs and the ITA New England Tournament. The Ephs claimed victories over Wesleyan, Wellesley, Babson, and archrival Amherst.
The Wesleyan match was a NESCAC match so the Ephs open the spring 1-0 in conference play.
A highlight of the fall campaign was the Ephs' doubles play. The program advanced three doubles teams to the semifinals of both NEWITTs and ITA New Englands with the doubles duo of senior captain Kara Shoemaker and junior Rebecca Curran earning a bid to the ITA National Small College. Shoemaker and Curran won the ITA National Small College NCAA Division III doubles title for the first time in program history.
"Our fall was very productive, and the players all showed a lot of improvement over the course of our 8-week season," said Eph head coach Alison Swain. "While last year was a huge success for our program, our team had to work extremely hard and be open to some uncomfortable change in order to get to a place where we could truly contend for the NCAA title. I think that was a valuable process for us, and I can see that our players are more open to improving their play than ever before."
|Kara Shoemaker '14|
Following the 2013 season, where the Ephs won their sixth consecutive NCAA National Championship and eighth overall, head coach Alison Swain's 2014 lineup will be talented, deep, and NCAA Tournament tested. Three of Swain's players have earned All-America honors and six of her singles players are ranked in the top 20 in New England, including three in the top six.
Last spring's number one singles player, Kara Shoemaker, looks to play her second consecutive season at the top of the Eph ladder after posting 55-20 singles record over the past two and a half seasons.
Shoemaker who came from outside the top six as a freshman to playing at number two as a sophomore is currently ranked #4 in the region in singles and she and Curran are ranked second in doubles play in the Northeast.
Shoemaker has twice earned All-America honors in singles and doubles in her career.
Senior captain Kathleen Elkins, who plays left-handed, is also a returning All-American in singles. She was named the ITA Northeast Player to Watch after her sparkling 21-0 singles record in the spring of 2013. Despite having studied aboard fall of her junior year, Elkins owns the most singles wins on the team, sporting a record of 84-10.
Elkins will be looking to play in her fourth straight NCAA team tennis tournament this spring. She is ranked 5th in the region for singles play and, with doubles partner junior Maria Pylypiv, is ranked third in the Northeast. Elkins also owns an impressive career doubles record of 74-18.
"It's exciting to see how much Kathleen and Kara have grown as tennis players, leaders, and teammates over the course of their time at Williams," Swain stated. "Their strengths compliment each other so well as captains and they have both found a very confident voice as leaders of this team."
The junior class returns a trio NCAA tournament tested players to the Eph squad.
Maria Pylypiv has won 59 singles matches to date and has lost just nine times. Having played in the NCAA Tournament in her first two years, Pylypiv will be working to help power the Ephs into the 2014 NCAA Tournament this spring. Currently Pylypiv is ranked 14th in New England in singles play and third in doubles with Elkins.
Junior Rebecca Curran has compiled a singles record of 53-19 over her two and a half seasons. Teaming with senior Kara Shoemaker the Eph duo advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Tournament last spring. Curran's career doubles mark sits at 65-17. A two-time All-American in doubles, Curran is ranked 19th in the region in singles and second in doubles.
Also expected to add to the depth of the Eph roster is junior Monica Pastor. Pastor spent the fall semester studying in Paris, but she returns to the courts this spring after putting her stamp on the 2013 National Championship crown. Pastor notched singles and doubles wins in both the NCAA quarterfinal and semifinal matches en route to the team's sixth consecutive NCAA title in 2013.
In her career Pastor has posted a record of 23-3 in singles play and is 17-4 in doubles.
Sophomore Maya Hart returns at full strength after an injury impacted her playing time over the past year. Hart has played just 10 singles matches for the Ephs (6-4) and has a record of 12-6 in doubles.
Swain can also call on Alex Stone to complete her singles and doubles lineup as Stone possesses quality dual match experience. As a freshman Stone compiled a 19-4 singles record playing primarily at number six.
In the fall Stone partnered with freshman Linda Shin to notch a 9-4 doubles record, which included advancing to the semifinals of both the ITA New England doubles tournament and NEWITTs.
Freshman Linda Shin made an immediate impact on the Eph lineup where she compiled a record of 13-2 in her first season of intercollegiate tennis. She advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITA New England singles tournament and the semifinals of NEWITTs before falling to Elkins and Shoemaker, respectively. She is ranked sixth in the region in singles play.
Atkinson, another left-handed player, will make a strong case for contributing match wins this spring after she fashioned an 8-1 singles mark in the fall that left her ranked 15th in the Northeast. Atkinson is also ranked in doubles, holding down the #6 spot in the region.
Freshman Annika Trapness rounds out the 10-player Eph roster. Trapness went 3-2 in her five singles matches in the fall and was 2-5 in doubles teaming mostly with Maya Hart.
"Overall, we have a small team this year, but these women are focused, hard-working, tremendous students off-court, and exceptional competitors," added Swain. "We will stay focused on our team goals and ways we can improve over the course of the season, but I'm encouraged by where we are starting from this spring."
The Ephs have been practicing indoors in the Towne Field House and at the Bennington Tennis Center since Feb. 15 and will see their first spring action on Mar. 9 when they travel to Saratoga Springs, NY to play Skidmore.
The Ephs will not play again until 15 days later when they tangle with Azuza Pacific March 24. The Azuza Pacific match is the first of six west coast matches the Ephs will play over spring break. Other matches on the west coast will be played against Chicago, Redlands, Pomona-Pitzer, Point Loma and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS).
Last year in an 8-match trip to the west coast the Ephs went 6-2 overall, falling 5-4 at CMS and losing to Middlebury 6-3.
"I believe there are several teams in the NESCAC and across the country that are top contenders this year, but I think it's important to stay focused on ourselves: our team goals, our program values, our strengths," stated Swain. "Ultimately, these are things that determine what this season will be about for us."
The Ephs' first contest back on the east coast will be on April 6 when they play at Middlebury in a NESCAC match. The remaining seven matches will find the Ephs playing six NESCAC opponents and MIT before they compete in the NESCAC Tournament May 2-4 at Bowdoin.