WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - The Ephs returned to action on Saturday afternoon with their first home dual of the 2016-2017 campaign, as they hosted the recently christened Mammoths of Amherst College at the Torrence M. Hunt '44 Tournamnet Courts.
The Mammoths entered Saturday riding a five-match dual win-streak and a perfect record in NESCAC action that included a win over one of last year's National Semifinalists, Bowdoin, while the Ephs - after last Sunday's 6-3 win over Wesleyan - were looking for their 3rd straight Little Three title, as well as their 13th overall since 1990.
The win by the Ephs' was their eighth straight over Amherst and ties the all-time series between the arch rivals at 39.
When the dust settled on Saturday afternoon, the Ephs' measured performance in doubles - securing points on a majority of the three courts - and their dominant singles display - sweeping all six courts - saw them repeat their 8-1 score-line against the Mammoths from back in the fall and clinch Little Three dominance for the third year in-a-row.
Atypically for the Ephs, none of their three doubles matches came down to the wire, but the Ephs still managed to come away from doubles with two of the three possible points, doing their damage on courts 2 and 3.
Representing the Ephs in the former of the two matches, Juli Raventos and Linda Shin propelled the Ephs to their desired start, handling Anya Ivenitsky and Avery Wagman in only 10 games to give the Ephs an early 1-0 lead.
In the latter of the two matches, Julia Cancio and Emily Zheng took the court against Megan Adamo and Claire Carpenter with the chance to double the Ephs' lead and to cement their side's advantage going into singles. The junior-freshman pairing managed just that, and extended the Ephs' lead to 2-0 with an 8-4 win over their Mammoth counterparts.
To prevent the dual from nearly escaping their team before the singles portion had even begun, the top Mammoth pairing of Camille Smukler and Kelsey Chen crucially took a point off the Eph partnership of Hannah Atkinson and Chloe Henderson to reduce their deficit to just the one point in the most tightly contested of the three doubles matches, 8-5.
With still a little ground to make up as the six singles match got underway, the Mammoth women were likely hoping to make their mark in several first sets. However, their attempts were entirely fruitless, as the Ephs locked down first-set wins on all six courts.
Co-captain Atkinson again set the standard for the Ephs in singles on Saturday, after she followed up her two strong singles performances from last weekend with an equally respectable straight-sets win over Camilla Trapness, conceding only one game en route to a 6-1, 6-0 victory on court 4.
Leah Bush was the next Eph off the court, and she managed to pull the purple and gold to within one point of clinching the dual with four matches still to go. Her match against Chen on court 2 was rather lopsided in the opening set, as the Eph sophomore recorded a 6-1 win, but things nearly evened out in the second, as Chen asked more questions of Bush, only to ultimately fall short, 6-4, to the native Floridian.
With only one more point needed to capture their 8th straight win against the Mammoths, Raventos delivered the finishing blow in her return to the Ephs' top singles spot. Her match with Smukler may have seen a drawn-out 6-3 first set, but the junior Costa Rican made sure the second was more abbreviated, dismissing the Mammoth first-year, 6-2, clinching the Ephs' 9th win of the season in the process.
Even with the win already guaranteed, the Ephs offered their arch-rivals barely an inch on the three remaining courts, as Shin, Mia Gancayco, and Cancio all combined to polish off the Ephs' sweep of the singles portion.
Gancayco was the first Eph off the court after Raventos' dual-clinching victory. Though the score-line favored the junior from Maryland heavily, the games were close, and Gancayco fought hard to earn her 6-2, 6-1 victory over Adamo on court 5.
Cancio's experience on Court 6 could be categorized similarly to her teammate's on the court next to her. Cancio never looked to struggle too much against Wagman in her straight-sets win, but still did not find the Mammoth junior to be a pushover during their 6-3, 6-2 contest, which favored the home side.
In the final match of the dual on court 3, the Mammoths had what was probably their best chance to sneak a point in the singles portion. Shin had cruised to a comfortable 6-1 opening set, but Ivenitsky had no plans to roll over for the Eph senior and co-captain, fighting back ferociously in the second set, coming from behind, 7-5, to force a third-set match-tiebreaker, played in lieu of a full third set since the dual's outcome had already been determined. Shin gathered herself in the tiebreaker, however, and conjured up her opening-set form to see off her first-year counterpart, 10-3, drawing the match to its conclusion, 8-1 in favor of the Ephs.
After the match, Eph head coach Alison Swain was proud of her team's performance on Saturday in winning their 13th Little Three title since 1990: "It's always exciting to beat Amherst and win the Little Three title. We played well today and stayed focused on our team and our tennis."
The Ephs will look to channel that focus over the course of the next six days, which they have off, until they welcome two teams from Maine, Bowdoin and Colby, next weekend on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Ephs are set to take on the Polar Bears starting at 2 PM EDT next Saturday at the Torrence M. Hunt '44 Tournament Courts.
Williams 8, Amherst 1
- Raventos, Juli (WILLIAMS) def. Smukler, Camille (AMHERST) 6-3, 6-2
- Bush, Leah (WILLIAMS) def. Chen, Kelsey (AMHERST) 6-1, 6-4
- Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) def. Ivenitsky, Anya (AMHERST) 6-1, 5-7, 1-0(3)
- Atkinson, Hannah (WILLIAMS) def. Trapness, Camilla (AMHERST) 6-1, 6-0
- Gancayco, Mia (WILLIAMS) def. Adamo, Megan (AMHERST) 6-2, 6-1
- Cancio, Julia (WILLIAMS) def. Wagman, Avery (AMHERST) 6-3, 6-2
- Chen, Kelsey/Smukler, Camille (AMHERST) def. Atkinson, Hannah/Henderson, Chloe (WILLIAMS) 8-5
- Raventos, Juli/Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) def. Ivenitsky, Anya/Wagman, Avery (AMHERST) 8-2
- Cancio, Julia/Zheng, Emily (WILLIAMS) def. Adamo, Megan/Carpenter, Claire (AMHERST) 8-4
Order of Finish:
Doubles – 2, 3, 1
Singles – 4, 2, 1*, 5, 6, 3
Williams: 9-4, NESCAC 3-1, nationally ranked #4, regionally ranked #2 (Northeast)
Amherst: 5-5, NESCAC 3-1, nationally ranked #12, regionally ranked #6 (Northeast)