Women’s Tennis 2019 Spring Season Outlook

Leah Bush '19
Leah Bush '19

"Unpredictable."

That is the word Anik Cepeda, head coach of the women's tennis team, used to describe the spring season. But according to her, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Every season is different. It's unpredictable – and in some ways – that's what makes it exciting," said Cepeda. "I really like this group in particular because I think they are 'yes' people. They're really enthusiastic about everything we've been doing in our training."

The team will be tested early on this year when they travel to face Skidmore on Saturday. Last fall, the Ephs swept the Thoroughbreds in doubles when Williams hosted the annual Lindsay Morehouse Invitational and went 5-4 in singles. However, Cepeda remains cautious.

"Some of our facilities aren't there, we don't have the field house so we've had to adjust. Add an extra day at Bennington and less days hitting," she commented. "There are a lot of new pairings for doubles, and we haven't even had match yet."

Cepeda's prudence is not unwarranted. Four of Williams' NESCAC opponents are ranked in the top eight nationally by the ITA, with perennial rival Amherst occupying the third spot. Williams is ranked fifth, but Cepeda feels that the "unpredictability" of the spring has not weighed them down.

"They've been great," she asserted. "I haven't heard any complaints. They haven't been blaming anybody for it, which I think is a really big piece to it. There's been a lot of 'yes' and enthusiasm, and I think that's going to be our strength."

After playing Skidmore this weekend, the Ephs will take a break from the chilly Williamstown weather to take their annual spring break trip to California. But lineup of opponents is nowhere near relaxing – Williams will be playing some of the top teams in the country, including formerly no. 1 ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and no. 4 Pomona-Pitzer, a team that has risen rapidly through the rankings this season.  

While this spring season may not look easy from the onset, the team is nowhere near inexperienced. All seven players from last fall are returning and will be joined by junior Sarah Yang from Santa Barbara, California. In addition, the doubles team of senior co-captain Leah Bush and junior Chloe Henderson snagged the no. 8 national ranking thanks to a successful fall campaign.

Even so, the team has big shoes to fill from the success the Ephs saw in 2018. Last year, Williams captured not only the NCAA doubles title but seven individual ITA honors as well. It is essential to note, however, that four of the seven awardees are returning players: Bush, Henderson, Rachel Cross '21, and Emily Zhang '20. It's no wonder Cepeda can't wait to watch them play again:

"It's more than just playing; playing is easy, you get out there and hit a ball a couple of times. Competing is problem solving, a willingness to be out there for a long time, to put yourself in positions on the court that don't feel like your A game. That's what I enjoy the most: looking across and seeing that all six courts are problem solving and doing whatever they can to figure out a win."

Cepeda's wish will be granted on Saturday at Skidmore when the first ball of the season is served at 1:00 PM.

 

 

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