AMHERST, Mass. - The Ephs made the trip east on Route 2 on Saturday afternoon to visit one of their rivals, Amherst College, for their lone dual match of the fall season. Although trailing in the all-time head-to-head between the two sides, the Ephs have gotten the better of Amherst in each of the past six meetings, including the last two at Amherst. Due to construction on Amherst's tennis courts, however, Saturday's clash was held off-campus at the nearby University of Massachusetts – Amherst tennis facility.
The Ephs got off to the perfect start in doubles, sweeping all three courts to give themselves a crucial 3-point advantage heading into the always competitive singles portion of the duel.
The doubles pairings of Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio with Mia Gancayco and Juli Raventos with Linda Shin, at three- and one-doubles respectively, each rushed out to early leads that they rode all the way to 8-2 victories over their Amherst counterparts.
The affair on Court 2, however, took much longer to decide.
Hannah Atkinson and Chloe Henderson exchanged games with their Amherst rivals, Vickie Ip and Anya Ivenitsky, but eventually grabbed a break to lead 6-4. Requiring only two service holds to see out their win, the Eph duo couldn't finish off the win immediately, as the Amherst tandem fought back strong to force an 8-all tiebreaker. The Ephs recovered well from their setback, however, taking the tiebreaker by a narrow two-point margin, 7-5, to sweep the board of doubles matches.
The Ephs built quickly on their doubles advantage, and overcame Amherst before they could mount a response to the Ephs' strong doubles display.
Gancayco, at the number six position, was first off the court against Jen Chen after racing out to a 6-0 first set score line, that she nearly repeated in the second, with a 6-1 score line, which won the Ephs their 4th point of the afternoon.
McDonnell clinched the match for the Ephs shortly thereafter with a win on Court 3, as she also cruised to a comfortable first set, 6-2, before repeating the same score line in the second, seeing off Avery Wagman in straight sets.
Even with the victory secured, the Ephs weren't done yet, as they attempted the clean sweep of the singles matches as well.
Shin kept the hope of the 9-0 win alive at two-singles, as she grinded out a tough 6-4 first set, before breezing past Camille Smukler 6-0 in the second.
The remaining three matches on the court all went to decisive third-set match tiebreakers, in lieu of a full third set since the match had already been decided.
Atkinson was next off the courts, fighting back to force a third set tiebreaker after she dropped her first set, 6-4. She drew level in the second, 6-3, and then in the tiebreaker, the senior rushed out to an early advantage that she held on tightly to all the way to the finish line, 10-5.
Leah Bush was next at four-singles, as Jackie Calla took the first set off the sophomore, 6-4, before Bush reversed the same score line in her own favor in the second to force the tiebreaker. Buoyed by Atkinson's performance, Bush nearly copied it, taking the 10-point tiebreaker, 10-6, only one point off her senior teammate's margin of victory.
Down to the final match on Court 1, Amherst managed to eke out a consolation point to prevent the Ephs from sweeping, and conclude the match at 8-1.
After coming so close to winning a point during the doubles portion, Ip came up good in her singles match against Raventos, even though she lost a tight first set, 7-5. Undeterred by the first set outcome, Ip fought back in the second, taking it 6-2, and then went on to just best the formidable Raventos in the tiebreaker, 10-8.
"Amherst is always a strong team nationally," commented Eph head coach Alison Swain after the Ephs' strong performance against one of their most historic rivals. "Posting an 8-1 win is really exciting for us. The team has put in a lot of focused work in practices since ITAs, and today was a testament to that focused effort paying off."
The Ephs' first dual win of the 2016-2017 season comes at the perfect time, as the Ephs can use it as another marker for the areas they will focus on during the coming winter off-season.
Before that, however, the Ephs will return to tournament action in about two weeks' time, when they travel north on Route 7 to Middlebury, Vermont to the Middlebury Invite, their last action of the fall season.
Williams 8, Amherst 1
- Vickie Ip (AMHERST) def. Juli Raventos (WILLIAMS) 5-7, 6-2, 1-0(8)
- Linda Shin (WILLIAMS) def. Smukler, Camille (AMHERST) 6-4, 6-0
- Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio (WILLIAMS) def. Avery Wagman (AMHERST) 6-2, 6-2
- Leah Bush (WILLIAMS) def. Jackie Calla (AMHERST) 4-6, 6-4, 1-0(6)
- Hannah Atkinson (WILLIAMS) def. Camilla Trapness (AMHERST) 4-6, 6-3, 1-0(5)
- Mia Gancayco (WILLIAMS) def. Jen Chen (AMHERST) 6-0, 6-1