Women’s tennis is back and ready to hit the ground running during its fall campaign. The Jumbos are coming off of a strong spring season where they finished with a 15–7 overall record, and had a 6–3 log in conference play. Tufts made it to the NESCAC semifinals last season for the first time since 2011, where the team was defeated by Williams, who later became the conference and national champions
The Jumbos added to their impressive NCAA tournament résumé, making it to their 16th tournament in 17 years. The squad saw its season end in the third round with a 5–4 loss to Johns Hopkins. Although the season ended with a loss, senior co-captain Zoe Miller looks back at the campaign with pride.
“I think it was our most impressive year in terms of energy that was displayed by teammates and our success throughout match play,” Miller said. “We made it very close to [our] goal of making it into the elite eight so it was disappointing when we didn’t get to that point, but reflecting on how much work everyone put in throughout [the season] makes me feel good.”
The team will be led by three tri-captains this season: Miller, senior Lauren Louks and junior Julia Keller. For Miller, this role is one she cherishes, and has enjoyed transitioning into.
“It’s been incredible to be in a more formal leadership position [for] a team that has been such a significant part of my Tufts experience,” Miller said. “The people that I’m also leading with in the captain’s position have been approaching it from a similar page of being super proud and grateful for the team experience but also looking to challenge our team in new ways through our team dynamics and also our tennis playing. It’s been a great transition.”
The Jumbos will open their fall efforts on Friday at the MIT Doubles Invitational. After that, they will compete in two more events in the fall season: the ITA Regional Championships beginning Sep. 29 and the Bowdoin Invitational beginning Oct. 13. This means the fall season will last for less than a month for the Jumbos.
The fall is different from the spring for Div. III tennis. In the fall, players from each school compete individually (or in pairs for doubles) in brackets in non-conference tournaments that do not have bearing on their postseason. In the spring, the team competes as a unit against individual conference opponents and wins and losses are recorded and will affect whether or not they make it to the NESCAC tournament and beyond.
While the Jumbos will compete individually in their fall contests, Miller values this time as an important period to get the team ready for a fierce spring season.
“Our spring season is very intense with the amount of matches that we have and the time we spend together as a team,” Miller said. “The fall is setting the stage for that … It is a great time to get situated as an individual college-level tennis player and also as a member of the team.”
Junior Mina Karamercan, who was named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-American Team in the spring, echoed Miller’s sentiments. Karamercan believes that while the fall season has a very different look to it than the spring, the team approaches the two season with the same commitment.
“Every match that leads up to the spring is essential,” Karamercan said. “That’s how we look at it. Every match is important, every match counts.”
The team looks to pass on this mentality to its first-years, who will be looking to fill the void left by the five seniors that graduated in the spring.
“Graduating five people in a 14 person team is a lot,” Karamercan said. “The [first-years] are really nice, really good. I’m sure they are going to add a lot to the team … they already have by just being there.”
For coach Kate Bayard, who finalized the team Tuesday, both new and returning players are held to the same standard during the tryout period.
“Everyone who wants to be on the team has to [prove] themselves,” Bayard said. “We are looking for people who have the team-first attitude and are really committed to the team.”
For the Jumbos, this fall season looks to be an exciting one that will include some new faces, while the same expectation of hard work will carry on as they charge onwards and upwards. Tufts will kick off its season at 9 a.m. on Friday at the MIT Doubles Invitational.