Following success against Brandeis, No. 8 women’s tennis falls to Middlebury

Junior Kat Wiley prepares for a serve during a doubles match in the women’s tennis home game against Williams at the Voute Tennis Courts on April 28, 2018. (Ben Kim /The Tufts Daily Archives)

The No. 8 Tufts hosted Brandeis at Voute Courts on Thursday, claiming a 6–3 victory before traveling to Vermont to take on Middlebury on Saturday. The Jumbos fell 7–2 to the Panthers, dropping their overall record to 6–6 and their in-conference record to 4–3  with a quarter of their regular season left to play. 

Transitioning into NESCAC competition after Thursday’s win, the Tufts Jumbos entered the contest against Middlebury aware of the Panthers’ strength. The prolific squad is undefeated in-conference, and Obeid commented that the Jumbos’ faltering confidence against Middlebury stood in the way of the team’s success.

“At times we were a little anxious, hesitating and feeling down,” Obeid said. “I think that affected us greatly.”

For first-year Maggie Dorr, the anticipation of competing against the highly ranked Panthers sparked motivation to perform at a higher level.

“Personally, I felt more fired up to beat Middlebury,” Dorr said. “I knew we were capable of beating them.”

The Jumbos left Vermont with a tough in-conference loss to the No. 3 team in the nation, despite putting up strong performances. The dynamic duo of first-years Dorr and Caroline Garrido rallied for a Tufts doubles victory, beating junior Heather Boehm and sophomore Ann Martin Skelly 8–6. Dorr also had Tufts’ sole victory in singles, beating Middlebury junior Katherine Hughes 7–5, 2–6, 10–8 in the last match of the day.

“Winning that match felt really good,” Dorr said. “I was happy that I was able to support the team and fight for the win.”

Although the Jumbos did not obtain the outcome they had hoped for against the Panthers, they felt proud of their performance, especially given the Panthers’ proven prowess on the courts.

“I think our performance overall has increased as the season’s gone on, and we’re only going to get better,” Dorr said.

Obeid echoed the same enthusiasm.

I think we had a great team dynamic overall,” Obeid said. “Everyone was very supportive of one another, screaming for each other on the court and recognizing good performances.”

A couple days earlier, Tufts defeated visiting No. 14 Brandeis 6–3. Entering the April 11 matchup, six spots separated the Judges and the No. 8 Jumbos. Earlier in the season, Brandeis beat Tufts’ NESCAC rivals Bates, Colby and Bowdoin. The Judges’ 5–4 victory over the Bowdoin Polar Bears was particularly impressive, as the Jumbos fell 7–2 to the Polar Bears on March 29.

Tufts got off to an early lead against Brandeis, sweeping the doubles competition 3–0. Tufts had standout performances across the board: Dorr and Garrido defeated Brandeis senior Olivia Leavitt and sophomore Lauren Bertsch 8–4, while senior Tomo Iwasaki and sophomore Patricia Obeid beat Brandeis senior Sophia He and first-year Anna Hatfield 8–3. Continuing with the Jumbos’ dominance, junior Kat Wiley and first-year Anna Lowy claimed a victory against Brandeis junior Diana Dehterevich and senior Keren Khromchenko 8–5.

According to Obeid, the team’s determination to succeed in the doubles competition set the stage for future success.

“We were able to keep up high energy and [stay] focused,” Obeid said. “Going up 3–0 in doubles gave us the confidence to perform well in singles.”

Tufts tied with Brandeis in singles with three wins apiece. Iwasaki beat Leavitt 2–6, 6–2, 11–9. Obeid defeated Khromchenko in straight sets, 6–4, 6–2. Rounding out the Tufts performance, Garrido claimed a commanding victory over Bertsch, winning 6–1, 6–0.

Dorr cited the team’s energy and positivity as the key to their success against Brandeis.

“We had a ton of confidence,” Dorr said. “We were so fired up and so energetic, everyone was cheering for each other … there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win that match.”

In the team’s penultimate home stand of the regular season, Tufts takes on Wellesley College on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Conn. College on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Until then, the team will focus on fine tuning their game by practicing scenarios that are likely to occur in match play. The team is also working on improving its fitness so that it can maintain its intensity over the stretch.

Looking towards the home matches, Dorr spoke to the team’s goals.

“We’re just going to go out there and try our best, not worrying about the score,” Dorr said. “We’re just going to try to play great tennis.”