WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - The Ephs returned to action for their penultimate dual of the 2016-2017 regular season on Saturday afternoon against intra-state rival, Tufts University, and the Ephs successfully extended their win-streak to five en route to their 33rd successive victory against the sixth-ranked Jumbos since the Ephs' last loss to the blue and brown back in 1991.
Though the Ephs concluded the day with seven points, it was the Jumbos who struck first, as Tomo Iwasaki and Otilia Popa recorded a comfortable, 8-1 victory to start off doubles against Hannah Atkinson and Chloe Henderson on Court 2.
The other two doubles matches were both very tightly contested, and could have gone either way. However, the Ephs emerged victorious on both courts.
First on Court 3, as Julia Cancio and Emily Zheng fought tooth-and-nail to win the final three games against Conner Calabro and Alexa Meltzer, for their 8-6 score-line. Then, finally, with Linda Shin returning to the doubles lineup for the first time in several weeks, the senior co-captain's NCAA Championship winning partnership with Juli Raventos was restored at the top doubles position, and the two orchestrated an early 6-3 lead over Mina Karamercan and Lauren Louks, before holding off a late surge by the Jumbos to match their teammates' score-line on Court 3, 8-6.
Even with the crucial 2-1 advantage secured entering singles, the Ephs continued to battle against a well-drilled Jumbo side, proving their mettle against the third-ranked team in the Northeast region.
Atkinson continued her admirable recent run of performances, putting in another laudable shift at the number three position, avenging her doubles loss by dismissing Iwasaki in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, to get the Ephs off and running in singles.
Atkinson's performance was followed quickly by Cancio on Court 5, who fared nearly as well as her senior compatriot in defeating her own Jumbo counterpart, Meltzer, 6-2, 6-1.
Requiring only one more point to clinch the dual, Leah Bush dealt the finishing blow to the Jumbos' hopes in her match against Louks on Court 2. The sophomore Eph exchanged blows with the junior Jumbo in the early stages of the first set, but finally kicked things into gear to take the first, 6-3, before finishing off Louks by the same margin in the second set.
Though the dual was now beyond reach, the Jumbos did find their way onto the scoreboard in singles thanks to Calabro on Court 6. Her match with Zheng saw several large swings in momentum, with the first-year Eph taking a 5-2 lead in the second set, after Calabro comfortably notched the first set 6-1. However, momentum would swing back in the veteran senior's favor, as she won the final five games of the match to increase the Jumbos' total tally to two in the dual.
That would be Tufts' last point, however, as Raventos and Mia Gancayco would apply the polish to the Ephs' win.
Raventos was pushed to the brink by Karamercan, who forced a third-set match-tiebreaker, played in lieu of a full third set since the match's outcome had already been determined, after the junior Eph won the first set, 6-4, only to be pegged back 6-2 in the second. However, Raventos rekindled her first-set form in the tiebreaker and bested her opponent, 10-4, to record the Ephs' 6th point of the afternoon.
To finish things up, Gancayco added the Ephs' 7th and final point shortly after the conclusion of Raventos' match, with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 win over Katherine Wiley, all but guaranteeing the Ephs the second seed in the 2017 NESCAC Tournament, which they will be hosting next weekend.
"We responded well today when individual matches were close," reflected Eph head coach Alison Swain after her team's 7-2 victory over an important NESCAC foe. "I think we are competing well, and we are excited about today's win and the level of tennis on each court."
Before the Ephs begin their postseason campaign next weekend, they still have one final dual to cap off their regular season, when they welcome fellow NESCAC team, Trinity College, to Williamstown on Sunday afternoon. The Ephs will be looking to keep their tennis trending in the right direction when the match gets underway at 12 PM EDT.
Williams 7, Tufts 2
- Raventos, Juli/Shin, Linda (WILLIAMS) def. Karamercan, Mina/Louks, Lauren (TUFTS) 8-6
- Iwasaki, Tomo/Popa, Otilia (TUFTS) def. Atkinson, Hannah/Henderson, Chloe (WILLIAMS) 8-1
- Cancio, Julia/Zheng, Emily (WILLIAMS) def. Calabro, Conner/Meltzer, Alexa (TUFTS) 8-6
- Raventos, Juli (WILLIAMS) def. Karamercan, Mina (TUFTS) 6-4, 2-6, 1-0(4)
- Bush, Leah (WILLIAMS) def. Louks, Lauren (TUFTS) 6-3, 6-3
- Atkinson, Hannah (WILLIAMS) def. Iwasaki, Tomo (TUFTS) 6-1, 6-0
- Gancayco, Mia (WILLIAMS) def. Wiley, Katherine (TUFTS) 6-3, 7-5
- Cancio, Julia (WILLIAMS) def. Meltzer, Alexa (TUFTS) 6-2, 6-1
- Calabro, Conner (TUFTS) def. Zheng, Emily (WILLIAMS) 6-1, 7-5
Order of Finish:
Doubles – 2, 3, 1
Singles – 3, 5, 2, 6, 1, 4
Williams: 12-4, NESCAC 6-1, nationally ranked #4, regionally ranked #2 (Northeast)
Tufts: 13-5, NESCAC 6-3, nationally ranked #6, regionally ranked #3 (Northeast)