SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY - In their first team dual of the spring season, the Williams College women's tennis team defeated the Skidmore College Thoroughbreds 5-4. Continuing their momentum from the Morehouse Invitational matches against Skidmore from the fall, the team fought hard to keep their early lead over the Thoroughbreds.
"Skidmore brought it today and we fought back well," said head coach Anik Cepeda. "This group is coachable and eager to find their sharpest competitive edge when it matters the most. Time to build."
Doubles matches set the tone for the day, with three teams of Ephs stepping up to face Skidmore. The duo of senior Leah Bush and first-year Julia Pham took an early lead in their match, never trailing and were the first to finish, winning 8-3.
Senior Korina Neveux and junior Emily fought back from an early 1-4 deficit to force a match tiebreaker when the score turned to 7-all. In a similar spirit, two courts over teammates Chloe Henderson '20 and Rachel Cross '21 fought at 6-7 to force a tiebreak of their own.
Neveux and Zheng succeeded, beating out their opponents in a 13-11 tiebreak. Henderson and Cross did not fare as well, and lost in a heartbreakingly close 9-11 tiebreaker; however, Williams was 2-1 overall in doubles and had the upper hand going into the day's singles matches. The matches were played in a four-court facility, so singles 1-4 went first, while singles 5 and 6 were held on the first open courts.
Neveux found more success in singles, finishing her first set in record time with her early lead and ending in a 6-1, 6-1 win over Skidmore's Dea Koiava, buoying the Ephs along 3-1. Henderson did not have the same luck, and was topped by Thoroughbred Karchere-Sun 6-1 6-1. Pham, fighting hard against Skidmore's Lily Feldman, was unable to surpass Feldman but played a very close second set, holding the lead for a most of it. However, Feldman managed to pull away, and won 6-3 6-4.
With the score tied at 3-3, the Ephs needed a win, and win they did: a athletic match from senior co-captain Bush against Skidmore's Risa Fukushige gave Williams their next point. While Bush held a slight lead for the majority of the first set, her second was a challenge as Fukushige held a lead 3-2. Bush, however, had different ideas and pulled ahead to win 6-3, winning four games in a row.
Junior Sarah Yang, in her first match of the season, was unfortunately topped by Skidmore's Audrey Soohoo 6-1 6-2. Yang fought hard and was down 0-5 in her second match, clawing her way to win another two games before falling. Once again, the team-duel score was tied at 4-4, and all eyes were on Zheng and her match against Thoroughbred Lauren Swenson. But there was no need to be worried; Zheng grittily finished her first set 6-0 and her second 6-2, cementing Williams' 5-4 win over Skidmore.
The Ephs will next face off against Sewanee at Pomona College on Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00 PM.