Tufts wraps up fall season, highly successful at Bowdoin Invitational

Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily Then first-year Julia Keller hits the ball during matches against Colby at the Voute Tennis Courts on April 1.

Women’s tennis wrapped up the fall season on a strong note with a combined record of 26-13 at the Bowdoin Invitational this Friday and Saturday. Sophomores Mina Karamercan and Julia Keller both went 3-0 in their singles matches, while sophomore Otilia Popa and senior Hannah Conroy were also undefeated in singles matches, both finishing the weekend 2-0. Tufts faced opponents from Bates, No. 6 Bowdoin, Wellesley and Skidmore College at the invitational.

Karamercan maintained her momentum from the ITA Regional Tournament, where she advanced to the third round. She defeated Wellesley senior co-captain Carina Chen 6-1, 6-3, first-year Ada Wiggins of Skidmore 7-5, 6-3 and sophomore Justine Huang of Wellesley, 7-6, 6-1. Keller dominated the singles bracket as well, defeating senior co-captain Andjela Stojkovic of Wellesley 6-3, 6-0, first-year Sarah Yan of Wellesley 6-3, 6-4 and junior Danielle Giannetti of Skidmore 5-7, 6-1, (10-6).

“Julia Keller’s singles [were] impressive,” coach Kate Bayard told the Daily in an email. “She is aggressive from the baseline off of both sides and even showed her ability to finish at net. It’s exciting that she will be in the mix this year after fully recovering from her injury last year. She is also one of the most fit players out there. She is someone who I know would never lose a match due to fitness. She’ll also continue to push others on the team to push themselves with their fitness in the off-season.”

In singles play, Conroy defeated Bates first-year Lauren Hernandez 6-1, 6-4 and nearly swept her teammate, sophomore Morgan Woods, 6-1, 6-0. Popa topped Wellesley first-year Korina Hernandez 6-7, 6-3, (10-8) and senior Dasha Kostikina, also of Wellesley, 6-2, 6-0.

Sophomore Tomo Iwasaki posted a 2-1 singles record over the weekend, defeating Bowdoin senior Pilar Giffenig 7-5, 6-3 and Chen 6-4, 2-6, (10-6).

“I felt a lot more confident with my serves throughout the weekend, and I want to work on mental toughness which is always hard for me, and general consistency, but that comes with practice and match play,” Iwasaki said.

Doubles play was a large focus for the team after struggling in that aspect during the ITA Regional Tournament. The Jumbos posted a 10-6 record in doubles matches this weekend and the team experimented with more doubles pairings. Karamercan and senior Jacqueline Baum were undefeated at the tournament with a 2-0 record.

“I saw some combos that we will definitely try again at the start of the spring season, but we will definitely be experimenting more with combos this spring,” Bayard told the Daily in an email.”[Junior] Lauren [Louks] is abroad, and I’m excited to start the spring with Lauren [Louks] and Mina [Karamercan] as our #1 combo again this year. They had a strong finish last year, ending the year ranked #6 in the country. I’m confident in their ability to compete with every #1 team out there. The next step is to find teams who have a good shot at winning in the #2 and #3 doubles spots.”

This tournament served as an effective way for the team to grasp its strengths and weaknesses going into the off-season. In addition to doubles play, the number of points won using volleys drastically improved, as well as the pressuring of opponents at the net. According to Bayard, the team saw higher serve and return percentages in doubles, increased awareness and better shot selection. However, there are many things that the team hopes to improve upon over the off-season, such as fitness and match play.

“A big thing for us this year is reducing our free points or [not giving] away points like double faults and getting all of the returns in,” Popa said. “Mainly we want to reduce errors that can be avoided.”

Tufts opens its spring season on March 19 against Oberlin at Pepperdine University.