Williams Charges Past Chicago 7-2

Rachel Cross '21 (Front) - Chloe Henderson '20
Rachel Cross '21 (Front) - Chloe Henderson '20

CLAREMONT, CA – In their final road matchup of spring break, the Williams College women's tennis team defeated the University of Chicago Maroons 7-2. The Ephs swept doubles against the fellow division III team to make for Chicago's third straight loss.

"This was a positive match energy wise for us. We stayed positive, had a lot of bounce backs, and demonstrated patient aggressive decision making more often than not," declared head coach Anik Cepeda "Special thanks to Women's Lacrosse - they showed up and helped keep our energy up! [We] love the Eph support."

The day got off to an exciting start as junior Chloe Henderson and Maxine Ng took a quick lead over Chicago's Nicole Semenoc and Annika Pandey 2-0. Leah Bush and Julia Pham also took quick command of their match, totalling their initial score at 2-1 against Catherine Xu and Eugenia Lee. Korina Neveux and Emily Zheng did not fare the same way, as Maroons Marjorie Antohi and Lauren Park snagged a point right off the bat.

The duos of Bush/Pham and Henderson/Ng both increased their leads as the matches went on, but Neveux and Zheng still found themselves under their Chicagan opponents by one. This didn't last long, as Neveux and Zheng turned their fortunes around and captured a 3-2 lead.

Williams' steady sailing helped to turn the tide, as Neveux and Zheng, no longer down, increased their lead to 6-3. Bush and Pham also held a comfortable deficit of five over their opponents. Chicago's Semenov and Pandey, however, had other ideas. Henderson and Ng were forced to fight off a comeback as their opponents closed the gap to 4-3, then 5-5, and then to 6-5, but never let Chicago take the lead.

While Bush and Pham won their matchup 8-3 and Neveux and Zheng defeated their respective Chicago duo 8-4, Henderson and Ng worked to stay in front of a spirited resurgence from the Maroons. Their match went into a tiebreaker; nonetheless, the Ephs pulled out the stops and quickly scored twice, winning the last doubles match of the day 8(2)-7.

Bush carried over her energy from doubles into singles, shutting down her first match against Antohi 6-0. Three other Ephs – Neveux, Zheng, and Ng – all seized 3-0 leads over Chicago. Henderson was unfortunately downed in her first set by Xu 6-2, as was Pham, whose adversary Semenov came away with a 6-0 first set.

Neveux and Zheng came away with 6-1 first set wins, while Ng thwarted Pandey 6-3. All three went into their second sets of the day with early leads, yet despite the good start, Neveux was defeated by Park 6-4 in her second. Bush was also foiled in her second set by Antohi, who won 6-3. Henderson lost a tough second to Xu, who took Chicago's first win of the day. Pham was also defeated by Semenov 6-0 in her second.

The tough news was not nearly to derail the Eph's momentum. Ng was the first to come away with a singles win for Williams, stymieing Pandey 6-1 in the second. Buoyed by her victory, Zheng also claimed a win for the Ephs, going 6-1 6-1 overall against Lee. Yet two sets were left to be decided: Bush and Neveux had both moved on into tiebreakers from their split sets.

The Williams players took similar routes in their third sets at firsts with an early lead out of both Bush and Neveux. Neveux kept her distance and secured a 6-2 win in her second, but Bush found herself in a tricky battle against Antohi, who refused to give in. Yet after a back-and-forth clash, Bush found her edge and pushed ahead to win her third 7-5 and top off the Eph's seventh point of the day.

As far as where the team is going next, Cepeda said: "Looking forward to Trinity back home and then a lot of practice."

Williams will host Trinity College on Sunday, March 31st at 2:00 pm EST.