WHITTIER, CA - In a heartbreakingly close day filled with ups and downs, the Williams College women's tennis team was defeated by the Tufts University Jumbos 5-4. A fellow NESCAC school, Tufts was coming off of a loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who the Ephs will be facing tomorrow.
"This was a good and tough match for us," stated head coach Anik Cepeda. "Enough hard fought matches and intense practices will add up to some great tennis when it matters the most. Looking forward to more growth tomorrow."
First-years Maxine Ng and Julia Pham took a slight lead over Tufts' Anna Lowy and Katherine Wiley as doubles began at 3:00 PM, as did Korina Neveux '19 and Emily Zheng '20. Junior Chloe Henderson and senior Leah Bush were not so lucky, but were not far behind Jumbos Maggie Darr and Caroline Garrido.
Neveux and Zheng quickly outpaced their opponents, increasing their lead to 4-1 over the Jumbos. But a court over, Ng and Pham's early good fortune did not hold, as Tufts took a one point lead over the duo minutes later. Bush and Henderson were also fighting hard to topple Tuft's momentum, down 2-5 to Darr and Garrido.
In an 8-3 victory, Neveux and Zheng were the first to finish their doubles match. Their victory was short lived, unfortunately, as both other Eph doubles partners were subdued by Tufts. Bush and Henderson were downed 3-8, while Ng and Pham came in close at a 6-8 loss.
With Williams down 2-1 going into singles, the Ephs found a new wind in their sails. Five of six singles matches started off with close scores. Pham found herself tied against Tufts' Wiley, while Henderson and Bush were both down by one to their opponents. Ng initially held Jumbo Nicole Frankel at a one point deficit, as did Zheng to her rival Garrido. Henderson, however, pulled ahead of Tufts' Patricia Obeid to lead by three points.
In a stroke of misfortune, the Ephs' second sets of the day were all losses – except for Leah Bush. Downed in her first set 4-6, she came back with a vengeance in her second to beat out Maggie Dorr 6-2. She moved into her third set of the day along with Zheng and Pham, who had won their first sets. Ng, Henderson, and Neveux conceded defeat to the Jumbos with their second-set losses.
Williams' third sets of the day were a definite showcase of the Ephs' skills – Bush won her third 6-1 to total her winning match at 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Pham also won her last set of the day 6-1 in the Eph's second singles win of the day. But the star of the show was Zheng, who stymied any thoughts of coming back by Garrido with her impeccable 10-2 third set victory. Yet despite the Ephs going 3-3 in singles, they were unable to shake off their earlier bad luck from doubles, and were barely edged out by Tufts 5-4.
Williams will play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tomorrow, March 22nd, at 11:00 am PST.