Women’s Tennis | Violets are blue after Jumbos sweep in singles

The women’s tennis team completed a sweep of its two fall dual matches on Saturday when it routed non-conference foe NYU 8-1 on Vouté Courts.

Coupled with their 7-2 victory over MIT on Oct. 2, the Jumbos’ weekend win improved their record to 10-1 in their last 11 fall dual matches. This season’s sweep was all the more impressive considering the youth on the squad’s roster, which featured four freshmen and just two upperclassmen.

“It was definitely quite an accomplishment because we have such a young team,” sophomore Julia Browne said. “We all stayed really positive and really focused on our goals, and I think it showed in both of our dual matches, which we won pretty convincingly…We were all really proud that we could do that, and we’re hopefully going to carry that momentum into the spring.”

The Jumbos recorded victories in every one of their six singles matches, all in a dominating, straight-set fashion. The bottom half of the singles lineup, consisting of freshmen Jen Lavet, Jen LaCara and Katie Pritchard, went virtually unchallenged in its matches, dropping just a combined eight games. For Pritchard, the match represented her collegiate debut in singles, and the Scituate, Mass., native showed no sign of nerves, trouncing Violets freshman Nandita Pandit 6-0, 6-2.

“I was impressed with how confident the freshmen were, once again,” coach Kate Bayard said. “One of the good things about having a young team is that they don’t necessarily know what to expect, but they just go out there and focus on their own strategy. They do a great job of staying in the moment and taking it point by point.”

After suffering an unexpectedly quick exit at the season-opening ITA New England Championships and a loss in the team’s dual match against MIT, junior captain Meghan McCooey got back on track in a big way Saturday, cruising past NYU senior captain Stephanie Tu 6-2, 6-2.

“She really stepped it up in terms of her style of play,” Bayard said. “She not only won that match, she played it with aggressive, confident tennis and by going for her shots. I saw her coming to net a lot and just really playing with a lot of confidence out there. It was really nice to see.”

Browne and sophomore Edwina Stewart rounded out the rest of the singles lineup, winning their matches at first and third singles, respectively.

On the doubles side, Bayard continued mixing and matching her lineups, this time pairing Lavet with classmate Nat Schils at second doubles. Also partnered with McCooey and Stewart at other points throughout the fall, Lavet had no trouble playing with Schils, downing NYU senior Amanda Freedman and sophomore Lisa Mijovic 8-3.

“Jen [Lavet] is someone who works really well with everyone,” Bayard said. “It was neat to see her out there with another freshman. [Lavet] and [Schils] had played together before the year started, that first week of school before we started practicing, so I knew they were comfortable playing together as a team.”

Paired in a dual match for the first time, Browne and McCooey cruised to an 8-1 victory at first doubles over the NYU tandem of Elizabeth Stachtiaris and Tu. Browne and McCooey had only played together in the team’s two individual tournaments this fall, reaching the finals of the ITA New England Championships and the semifinals of the Middlebury Doubles Tournament. This weekend, the duo will head to Mobile, Ala. for the ITA National Small College Championships, and Saturday’s experience was intended to give them a tune-up for the tough competition ahead.

“We played one of our best matches,” Browne said. “We just played exactly how coach has been teaching us: attacking a lot at net, taking advantage of any ball we thought we could cut off at net, and just playing really aggressively and taking control. I think it was a really good match to play before we go off to Nationals.”

Tufts’ lone loss of the day came at third doubles, where the tandem of junior Laura Hoguet and Pritchard fell 8-4 to NYU sophomore Sara Joo and junior Clara Smith.

The Jumbos will split their squad this weekend, as Browne and McCooey will head to Alabama, while the rest of the team will participate in the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament at Amherst.

At the Davis Cup-style event in Amherst, Mass., Tufts will feature pairings of Lavet and LaCara, and Stewart and Schils in the first flight and Pritchard and Hoguet in the second.

“I think that it’s going to be a great opportunity for the whole team to put together everything that they’ve been working on all season,” Bayard said. “Everyone’s going to play singles and doubles, so it’s a lot of tennis in a few days. It’ll be a really good opportunity for people to play some really tough competition.”