The No. 2 ranked women’s tennis team competed against three top-ranked teams during their road trip to New England this weekend, facing the No. 7 ranked Middlebury College (Vt.) Panthers, the No. 3 ranked Amherst College (Mass.) Lord Jeffs and the No. 13 ranked Tufts University (Mass.) Jumbos.
On Friday, Emory fell to Middlebury 4-5.
The team rebounded on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Amherst 5-4 and Tufts 7-2.
The Eagles’ record now stands at 12-4 on the season.
On Friday, the first doubles team of senior captain Zahra Dawson and sophomore Gabrielle Clark dominated their matchup with an 8-3 victory.
The Eagles then dropped their second and third doubles matches in largely uncompetitive games.
Entering singles play, the match score stood 1-2 in Middlebury’s favor.
The Panthers proved to be a challenge in singles play. Clark, who plays first singles, was handily defeated in two sets.
Junior Jordan Wylie, the second singles player, was also defeated in two sets.
However, the final three players in the singles line-up stepped up and won their matches.
“I was really pleased with how our four-five-six singles played,” Head Coach Amy Bryant said. “They picked it up for us, which was great.”
Sophomore third singles Malavika Padmanabhan won her match easily in two sets.
The fifth singles match was more competitive. Sophomore Brenna Kelly won in three sets.
After dominating the first set 6-1, she dropped the second 2-6. She responded to the momentary setback with a 6-0 victory in the final set.
Sixth singles Lauren Pinsky also won her match in two sets. The score of the match was now 4-4.
The match came down to Dawson’s third singles match. Dawson won the first set 6-1, but then lost the next two in heartbreaking fashion, 5-7 and 6-7.
The Eagles had raged back from an early deficit only to see themselves lose in an extremely competitive third singles match.
“When it comes down to third-set tiebreaker, these matches can go either way,” Bryant said.
On Saturday, the Eagles squared off against Amherst College. Facing one of their biggest challenges of the season, Emory defeated the Lord Jeffs by a score of 5-4.
The first and second doubles teams won to start off the match. The number one team Clark and Dawson and the number two team of Kelly and Padmanabhan each won by a score of 8-5.
The Eagles lost in third doubles, entering singles competition with a 2-1 lead.
Clark regained her form and dominated her first singles match, 6-1, 6-0. Amherst would take the second and third doubles matches.
“We really stepped it up under big pressure,” Bryant said.
Once again, Dawson’s third singles match was very competitive. After losing the first set, 6-3, she battled back to nearly win the second set, falling just short, 6-7.
The Eagles won both the fourth and fifth singles matches, but lost in sixth singles after a shocking 8-10 loss in the third set.
Bryant was extremely pleased with the team’s performance and strength of will.
“They’re not going to let a discouraging loss get them down,” Bryant said. “They are going to turn it around the next day.”
On Sunday, the Eagles cruised past Tufts, winning by a score of 7-2.
The Eagles only two losses of the matchup came in third doubles and fourth singles. Not a single match required a third set.
Once again, Clark devastated her opponent in the first singles match, 6-0, 6-1.
The Eagles other six wins were played in a similar fashion.
Bryant was very pleased with the total effort her team put forth.
“We played well,” she said. “Everyone got a piece of that match, which is nice. Everyone got to contribute.”
Sophomore Brenna Kelly has played an important role in Emory’s recent success. Since moving into the singles lineup to fill in for an ill player four matches ago, she has gone undefeated.
“She hasn’t been in the singles lineup since she’s been at Emory,” Bryant said. “She beat some very good players this weekend and played very well.”
The Eagles next match will take place at home in the Woodruff P.E. Center against Georgia Perimeter College on Thursday at 3:00 p.m.
The University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships will begin on April 27 in Orlando, Fla.
â€” Contact David Stess.