The Tufts team, made up of entirely freshmen and sophomores, approaches the end of its fall season. Caroline Geiling / The Tufts Daily

Tufts narrowly falls to MIT in team’s first dual match of the season

The women’s tennis team took the court for its first dual match of the season on Wednesday afternoon, taking on local foe MIT on Voute Courts. Although the Jumbos turned in a strong effort, they fell short by a score of 5-4.

The match kicked off with the three doubles matches of which the Engineers took two, both by fairly wide margins. At the No. 1 doubles spot, the MIT pair of junior Victoria Tam and sophomore Elysa Kohrs defeated the Tufts duo of sophomore Alexa Meltzer and freshman Aandrita Deb by a score of 8-4. Tufts also fell at the No. 2 doubles spot, as freshman Sonya Das and senior Michelle Dutt of MIT defeated freshman Lauren Louks and sophomore Chelsea Hayashi by a score of 8-1. At the No. 3 doubles position, the Jumbos’ team of freshman Zoe Miller and sophomore Conner Calabro beat its counterparts, sophomore Krystal Lai and freshman Dora Tzeng, by a score of 8-2 to secure Tufts’ lone doubles victory.

Conner and I did a good job of creating effective patterns to put our shots away, especially at the net,” Miller said. “We kept a balance of consistency and offensiveness.”

With MIT leading two to one, the match came down to the six singles matches. The score fluctuated, and at one point Tufts held a four-to-three lead, but MIT finally retook the lead and held on for the win. 

Hayashi’s match was the first to finish. She played at the No. 6 singles position, and beat MIT freshman Jae Hyun Kim by a score of 6-2, 6-0. The next match to finish was the No. 5 singles match, in which Miller defeated Lai by a score of 6-0, 6-4. The win gave Miller a win in both singles and doubles.

“I focused on being patient and hitting shots that were uncomfortable for my opponent’s style,” Miller said.

The Engineers tied up the match score at three when Kohrs edged Deb at the No. 1 singles in a tight contest, winning by a score of 7-6, 6-4. The Jumbos regained the lead when Meltzer beat Das in a three-set match by a score of 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Tufts would not win another match, however, as MIT players won in the No. 3 and No. 4 singles positions to secure the 5-4 win. At No. 3 singles, MIT sophomore Wendi Kong beat Louks in another three-set affair by a score of 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. The match then came down to the No. 4 singles position, where MIT’s Tzeng defeated Calabro by a score of 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.

With the win, MIT maintains its spotless record thus far, which stands now at 7-0. Although they ultimately fell short,  the Jumbos have proven to themselves and the Div. III tennis community that they can compete with the toughest of teams. There is, however, room for improvement.

“We learned that our level is very even with a challenging team,” Miller said. “We can improve on our ability to close out matches.”

This was only the first team match that Tufts has played this season, and its now-demonstrated ability to perform at a high level bodes well for the rest of the fall season and beyond.

The team’s next match is on Oct. 15 at the home of Babson, another local opponent, and the Jumbos will attempt to put their loss behind them and get a win in the second and final dual match of the fall season.

Tufts boasts the youngest team in the NESCAC, and one of the youngest in the nation, with not a single upperclassman on its roster. The fact that the team took an undefeated MIT squad down to the wire is a testament both to its talent and its promise, so the results should accrue in due time.

“I’m most excited to see how our team does against other schools in upcoming matches,” Miller said. “We have a very strong and united team this year, and I think we are going to have great results.”

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