Tufts cruises past Trinity, Hamilton in pair of 9-0 wins

First-year Katherine Wiley dives to return a shot during Tufts' 5-4 win against Amherst on April 19. Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily

Tufts moved to 13-4 with a pair of victories over Trinity and Hamilton. These came on the back of a loss to Bowdoin and a victory over Amherst. With the Trinity result, the program records the most regular-season wins since the 2010-11 season, in which it recorded 13.

“I’m not really looking at wins and losses right now, I’m looking more at how we’re improving as a team,” coach Kate Bayard said. “I’m impressed with the team, certainly at some of the [wins] they pulled out over solid teams, but I’m more impressed with their work ethic and how eager they are to get better with each match.”

This feat was achieved on Tuesday, as Tufts claimed two 9-0 victories by romping to victory at Trinity in the penultimate regular season match. The Jumbos’ leading doubles pair sophomore Mina Karamercan and junior Lauren Louks got the team going with an 8-0 victory over junior Vanja Babunski and first-year Julia Brogan. Sophomores Tomo Iwasaki and Otilia Popa then moved Tufts two ahead, winning 8-2 against first-years Jillian Winer and Krista Jiranek. Senior co-captains Alexa Meltzer and Conner Calabro then quickly followed with an 8-1 victory of their own in the third position.

Iwasaki put Tufts in an almost unassailable position when she defeated Jiranek at number three without dropping a single game. The Jumbos locked up the win when Louks’ opponent Brogan retired in the second singles position down 6-0, 3-0. Karamercan continued her strong season by dispatching Babunski 6-2, 6-0. Calabro then followed with a 6-1, 6-0 victory of her own. Classmate Chelsea Hayashi maintained her unbeaten run in singles play this year (4-0) with a 6-0, 6-1 victory against junior Sara Curtis. To wrap up the match as a contest, Meltzer came from behind to defeat Winer 4-6, 6-2, 10-3.

“I was most impressed yesterday with how much confidence very single person played with,” Bayard said. “What I’ve been telling them is a mid-court ball is a mid-court ball no matter who you’re playing, and if we can continue to treat it the same way regardless of what team we’re playing, then we’re in great shape.”

The Jumbos commemorated Senior Day on Saturday with an emphatic 9-0 sweep of the Hamilton Continentals. Four of the team’s five seniors suited up to play in their final tennis match on Tufts’ grounds. Bayard rotated her third doubles position pairing as senior Jacqueline Baum teamed up with sophomore Julia Keller to beat sophomore Claudia Morse and first-year Iona Forrester 8-0. It was business as usual in the other two doubles pairings, as Karamercan and Louks continued their fine partnership with an 8-1 victory over senior Winnie Tang and sophomore Jane Haffer. At No. 2, Wiley and Popa defeated senior Claire Keyte and sophomore Samantha Weeks 8-5.

Speaking about the contribution of the seniors, Bayard was quick to praise the ethic they embodied.

“All five of the seniors have been amazing role models in terms of their commitment to the team and how much they’ve taken ownership of the culture,” Bayard said. “It speaks to their leadership when you’ve a team of 14 people – which is the largest team I’ve ever had – and there are never any issues with people not getting along.”

The other three seniors who starred on Saturday included Calabro, Meltzer and Hayashi. Hayashi consolidated Tufts’ lead with a double bagel victory over Morse. Meltzer won her match against Haffer 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3, while Calabro won 6-1, 6-0 over Weeks at No. 4. The victory was sealed earlier as Karamercan defeated Tang 6-1, 6-0. In fact, no Jumbo gave up more than three games in what was a comfortable outing for the team.

For only the fourth time this season, Tufts failed to record a victory in doubles play on Friday as they eventually went down 6-3 against No. 7 Bowdoin. While Karamercan put Tufts on the board in the first position against with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory against senior Joulia Likhanskaia, who is ranked 49th nationally, it was not to be for Tufts. First, Bowdoin senior Samantha Stalder recovered from 6-1 first set loss to take the next two 6-2, 6-4 against Iwasaki, before first-year Tasha Christ sealed a more straightforward 6-4, 7-5 victory over Wiley. Meltzer (6-4, 6-0) and Calabro (6-1, 6-2), however, were able to pick up consolation victories in the fifth and sixth position over senior Pilar Giffenig and first-year Sasa Jovanovic respectively.

The defeat, according to Meltzer, provided the impetus for the team in its two recent 9-0 victories.

“I think it was a good wake-up call for us because we had just come off a great win against Amherst, and when we came out against Bowdoin we were a little bit flat while they were playing at the top of their game,” Meltzer said. “We need to be ready to go on every time we step out there no matter what team we’re playing, and we took that to heart and that’s how we were able to come out on Saturday against Hamilton and win 9-0 handily.”

On April 19, the Jumbos overcame the resilient Amherst Mammoths in a 5-4 split. Wiley and Popa fell 8-2 in the second position, but Iwasaki and Keller levelled the scores soon after with a comfortable 8-3 victory over seniors Megan Adamo and Claire Carpenter. Karamercan and Louks recorded an 8-4 win over sophomore Kelsey Chen and first-year Camille Smuckler to hand Tufts the advantage going into the singles matches.

Iwasaki was unable to follow up her doubles victory in the singles as she lost 7-6 (4), 6-0 to first-year Anya Ivenitsky in the third position. However, Louks then put Tufts back in front with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 victory over Chen. Amherst simply did not go away as Smuckler, ranked 34th nationally, defeated Karamercan 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first position to make it three-apiece. However, Wiley and Calabro won their matches at the fourth and sixth to seal victory for Tufts.

The team’s final regular season match takes place at No. 4 Williams on Saturday, before it heads back to the same venue for the NESCAC Championship a week later.

According to Calabro, the team is looking forward to the challenge.

“I think our team is in great shape for our last match of the season, no matter who it is we play (Williams or any other team),” Calabro told the Daily in an email. “In my four years, our team has never beat Williams in a dual match before, so I think everyone (especially the seniors) are hungry to get the chance this year, since this is by far the best team I’ve been on while at Tufts.”