Friday, August 4, 2017

Meet Our Captains

Smith Tennis is ready to gear up for the fall of 2017.  Leading the charge will be Samantha Peikes and Joanna Kim.  Both veterans to the Smith team and we look forward to their leading the 2017-2018 Smith College Tennis Team.

Samantha Peikes
Samantha Peikes:
I am Sam one of the captains for the Smith College tennis team. I am from West Hartford, Connecticut, but I have been spending my summer in Delaware working for a Marine Research and Rehabilitation Institute in addition to working as a fellow for Our Climate, which mobilizes college students to put a price on carbon as a response to combating climate change. I was studying abroad last semester in the tropical rainforests of far northeast Queensland, Australia. It was an incredible and unforgettable experience, but I am eager to get back on the courts to play the sport that I love so much. 

Joanna Kim
Joanna Kim:
I'm a neuroscience major with a Chemistry and History minor
I'm from Chicago, IL and I know a lot of random facts, yet I'm terrible at trivia 
I had a summer internship at NASA Ames, Mountain View CA researching how deep space affects our bodies. There seems to be one, overarching goal for NASA: go to Mars. That's at least 6-8 months of space travel, and we don't know how or to what extent cosmic radiation or microgravity affects our bodies. My project specifically looks at how our eyesight worsens because of microgravity - it's hypothesized that Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) localizes in our heads without gravity to centralize it. CSF applies pressure to the back of the eye and optic nerve, causing the back of the retina to flatten, which is causing astronauts to come back far-sighted when they had perfect vision pre-flight.   I am very eager for the Smith tennis season to begin.

Smith Tennis Earns Academic Honors

The Smith Tennis Team, once again, brought home ITA academic honors.  Here is the link.

Congratulations to all of the team members for finding the balance between academics and athletics and for those who have excelled in both.

2017 All-Academic Teams & Scholar Athletes - Division III Women

Smith College

Kelli Cheung

Noa Dubin

Emma Essenmacher

Evelyn Hoffman

Leigh Johnston

Samira Mehta

Paige Pryor

Margaret Anne Smith

Kara VanAllen

Christine Yee

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Smith Tennis-Finished Strong This Spring!

What is your philosophy about competition?  What is the Smith Tennis Team philosophy?  Is being part of a college tennis team all about winning or are there other, more important, factors?  Certainly winning is a nice product and winning says "success"  but this year's team might say that cohesiveness is one of the most important factors and getting there is not by chance.  Growing closer and stronger often comes through trials and challenges.  Meaningful experiences often are born out of hard work and sacrifice.  No one wants to hear that the experience of growth is from hardship but that is often the case.  The Smith Tennis Team grew closer and stronger through their hard work in overcoming adversity, encouraging one another and trying to always find the positive.
They rated themselves, for the most part, on their quality of play and the effort they put into the competition rather than the result.  Did the team win the conference or the Seven Sisters' Championship.  No.  They were not close to the top this year but that did not seem to deter their efforts or dampen their spirits.  What the team did achieve is almost beyond words.  They became unified, focused, supportive, inclusive and determined and they laid the ground work for a fall that will build on that strong foundation.  Check out these photos and see what you think.

The seniors will be missed but their positive influence will be felt as the newcomers are welcomed in less than two months.
The returning players are committed to share the life lessons learned this past year and to relay those lessons to the newcomers.  It was, no doubt, hard work but it certainly seemed to pay off in the end.

Samantha Peikes will captain the team in the fall and she will be joined by a second captain mid-fall.  It is predicted Sam will take the court with her "no nonsense" approach to the game and her sheer love of tennis.  Sam is a true student of the game.  Her leadership is contagious and Sam will be sure to have a following of teammates committed to the same mind set.  What will be next will be the result of this philosophy and the prediction is success of the most important kind.  Best wishes to Smith Tennis this summer and look to great accomplishments this fall!

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Fairy-Tale Ending For A Deserving Senior

All good things must come to an end and such it was for three seniors tonight but not before history was made by one. Margaret Anne Smith opened play by singing the national anthem one more time in her last appearance on The Smith College Tennis Team.  She then took to the court in doubles with Joanna Kim. The two formulated their new partnership during the match and defeated Thompson and Simoes from Johnson and Wales 8-3.  Margaret Anne then stepped up for singles.   She was not deterred when asked to play number 1 singles  when Noa Dubin was sidelined with an injury and Joanna Kim was nursing a sore shoulder. Emmay was stellar on court this evening gathering information, analyzing  and calculating her strategy throughout the first set and taking charge in the second set anticipating her opponent's every move and answering with steady confident play.  Mentally strong and always positive,  Margaret Anne capped off her tennis career at Smith College with a decisive win and was immediately surrounded by her teammates to celebrate the moment  ( ). Her words before the match:  "Bring it on, I'm ready" and ready she was to go into the history books as a Smith Tennis success story! Winning 7 out of the last 9 matches this season, Emmay remains the winningest player on the Smith Tennis Team for the last four years. She has captained the team for the last two years and she has been a terrific role model both on and off the court. She will be missed but her love of the game and her fierce competitive nature will remain as an inspiration to this team and those to come.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

From Fall to Spring With Smith Tennis

Much has happened with Smith College Tennis since the last entry.  The team survived the New England winter which finally seemed to end in early April.  During those cold snowy months, the tennis team volunteered with several athletic department activities including Girls on the Run and NGWSD (National Girls and Womens'Sports Day) giving back to other young girls looking for role models and leaders in the world of sports.  
Smith Tennis fit the bill and the members of the team reached out to the community in a variety of ways while continuing to work on their tennis game.  Committed to 6:30am practices beginning in February, Smith Tennis drew on their resources and added new tactics and strategies in preparation for the short but action packed competitive season.  The Pioneers hit the ground running with a first match victory over Simmons College.  Next, Smith faced Conn College but the Camels were too strong taking the Smith Team down 1-8.  Margaret Anne Smith was the sole winner on the courts that day showing her usual love of the battle and heart for the game winning 6-4, 6-2 over Mariah Smith of Conn College.Smith Tennis players then prepared for Regis College in a home match that was originally scheduled away.  Even with the home advantage, Smith could not hold on and Regis edged out a 5-4 win over the Pioneers.  This time, Noa Dubin joined Margaret Anne on the winning singles ledger and both teamed up to also claim the number 1 doubles point.  Adding to the wins was the third doubles team of Christine Yee and Leigh Johnston who lobbed and poached to an 8-7 tiebreak win but four wins were not enough to claim the victory from the Lions.

All preparation in early April turned to the tournament highlight of the season; The Seven Sisters' Tennis Championship.  This year's event was hosted by Mount Holyoke College.   The five team round robin continues to be the highlight of the spring season.  Smith drew the top seeds on the first day facing Wellesley in the morning and Vassar in the afternoon.  Noa Dubin, Joanna Kim and Margaret Anne Smith rounded out the singles line up for Smith.   Margaret Anne Smith (Spring Lake, N.J./High Technology) picked up the lone victory for the Pioneers at the number three singles position.  The first set was tight as the Wellesley player struck hard and fast forcing Smith into a defensive mode.  Her strong will and determination allowed her to adjust to the challenging hard hitting opponent as well as to the physical challenges of the court assignment.  Unable to use her high recovery shot and lobs because of the overhead interference on the indoor court, she was forced to relay on her other strengths.  Smith changed pace and hit topspin to neutralize her opponent and to claim the second set handily.   Later the same day,  Smith College faced Vassar.   It was a toss up as to which match to watch as both Noa Dubin at number 1 singles and Margaret Anne Smith at number two singles exhibited some of the finest tennis of the tournament.  The history book will never show the passion, desire, fortitude and effort that each player put into her match. Vassar was not going to breeze by Smith College and Noa and Margaret Anne were determined to let them know. Both players went three sets with 10 point match tiebreakers for the third sets.  All eyes were on the two matches and hearts pounding as the result of each match was uncertain until the end.  Noa dropped the first set to Vassar's Katie Christiansen 4-6 but came back to a 7-5 second set.  Noa showed her athleticism on every point by anticipating each return and giving everything she had on each ball strike.  She reached the tiebreaker by determination, grit and skill but it took even more to hold on through the tiebreak and Katie was the ultimate winner in a 10-5 match breaker finish.  Margaret Anne's finish was similar but her style and route to the tiebreaker was much different.  She won the first set 6-2 and dropped the second set 4-6 before entering the match breaker.  Shayna Becker of Vassar pulled ahead at 3-3 in the breaker  in tight  long points to gain the victory.  All Smith players were gractious in competition against Vassar and gained the compliment of the official for their fighting spirit, outstanding play and overall sportsmanship.  In day 2 of the Seven Sisters' Championship, Smith had the toughest competition behind them but formidable competition still ahead as they faced Mount Holyoke College on Sunday morning (April 9).   Smith gave their best but went down to MHC 5-0.  The Pioneers rebounded for the last match of the tournament with a 3-2 victory over Bryn Mawr.  Noa and Margaret Anne brought in two singles victories and Joanna Kim returned to the line-up on Sunday.  She was forced to retire her first match at 5-4 over Vassar because of a shoulder injury.  She "girded her loins" and stepped back in the line-up at a crucial time, used her underhand serve effectively and earned the deciding victory for Smith over the Bryn Mawr player leaving Smith fourth in the overall Seven Sister tennis standing.  Congratulations to Margaret Anne Smith who was selected for the Seven Sisters' All conference team.

Smith faces Colby-Sawyer and Johnson and Wales in the coming week to conclude the season.  The Johnson and Wales match is the senior match for Smith Tennis and we invite anyone in the area to join us on Friday, April 14 at 4pm to honor Christine Yee,  Kelli Cheung and Margaret Anne Smith.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

NEWITT Accomplishments To Finishing Strong

The fall tennis season for Smith Tennis came to a climax the weekend of October 14-16 with 10 players selected to compete in the New England Women's Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament.  The event is a highlight of the fall tennis season for colleges and Smith College continues to host the prestigious 20 plus team event in conjunction with Mount Holyoke College.  This event showcases our Smith facility and the tournament showcases many of the best division III players in the northeast.   We were indeed fortunate to have beautiful fall days and the vibrant colors of fall flanking the courts added to the ambiance.
Smith Team preparing for NEWITT, 2016!
Play began on Friday at noon with a team tennis format of  2 playing making up a team. Both players competed in singles and doubles against their opponents.  The team participants for Smith were Margaret Anne Smith who paired with Samantha Peikes at number 1.  Noa Dubin and Janan Fugel were team 2.  Alexandra Steck and Kelli Cheung made team 3.  Kara Van Allen and Christine Yee were team 4 and Evie Hoffman and Tess Ostoyich made up team 5.   Sam and Margaret Anne drew the Trinity 1 team in first round.  Sam won her singles and Margaret Anne was edged by her opponent.  The two played a competitive doubles but Trinity won so the match score was 1-2.  Noa and Janan had a 1-2 loss versus Wheaton while Alexandra and Kelli defended their ground, moving to the next round in the main draw, after defeating WNC 2-1.  Kara and Christine bowed to Colby-Sawyer 0-3 and Evie and Tess lost 0-3 to Springfield.  In day two , the senior team of Alexandra and Kelli continued their winning streak as they defeated Babson, in what may have been their personal bests!  This senior team peaked at the right time!  All other Smith teams moved to the consolation rounds.  Sam had to make an emergency exit from the event and Emma Essenmacher left the tournament desk to fill in last minute.  They lost their doubles to Simmons but Margaret Anne came back with an excellent singles win to even the score.  Emma jumped in to play her singles and she came very close to upsetting the Simmons player in a steady three set match.

Margaret Anne Smith receiving
her NEWITT Warrior Award
The highlight at the Smith site on Saturday morning featured Margaret Anne Smith.  Nominated by her coaches and selected by the participating coaches in the NEWITT, Margaret Anne was awarded the first annual Lynn Miller Warrior Award.  Here is an explanation of the award:

Lynn Miller Warrior Award
Lynn Miller was the head coach at Wheaton College from 1980 until 2015.  She is currently an assistant coach with the Colby Sawyer College tennis teams.  The Lynn Miller Warrior Award is to be awarded to a current junior or senior player who embodies competitiveness in playing sport while competing with the highest level of integrity.  One of Coach Miller’s former players says of her:

“Her resilient character has enabled her to become a mentor to hundreds of athletes who have gone through her programs.  On a personal note, Coach Miller showed me how to compete with your mind and body while always keeping fair play at the center of competition.”

The nomination for Margaret Anne Smith
Our captain and warrior, Margaret Anne is remembered by most coaches and players because of her tenacious style on-court.  She will never give up. Her matches often go three or more hours as she skillfully loops her high shots to baseline over and over. Almost all of her opponents dread to see her walk onto their court because they know she will never quit. She has mastered the drob shot (half drive, half lob) and lob in an attempt to outlast and frustrate her opponent but she uses what abilities she has to the maximum and always stays mentally positive throughout. She is patient, determined and physically strong and able to get to almost any shot handed to her. She is positive in spirit and determined on the court.  She is a delight to coach. Her dedication, determination and fitness helped her to gain the best singles record on the team this season.

The commitment of those who were not on court was commendable and noteworthy.   A special thanks goes to Emerson Barry and Emma Essenmacher for getting out and playing when called on at the last minute.  Emma overcame her injury to go three sets in the B flight with the Simmons player! Emma did the lion's share of work at the tournament desk.   Joanna and Toula also took charge of the desk for a time and was joined by Annina Van Riper later on.  All did a great job of keeping the tournament moving.  Emerson deserves special notice for collecting all the scores on Saturday evening! Leigh Johnston was involved in campus work but made her cameo appearances now and again adding to the excitement of the weekend.

Smith Tennis finished on a strong note on this weekend and for the season.  They plan to continue their strength and conditioning workouts in the off season and they hope to start captains' practices soon.  They will be back in competitive action this spring.

Smith Tennis
Finished Strong
Finished Together

Encouraged One Another
All with grace!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October Break Successes

Smith Tennis opened October break on Saturday, October 8 with an exciting 7-2 win over Emerson in the final dual match of the fall season.   The match score does not indicate the closeness of the match as it was undecided until the end.  Number 1 and 3 doubles got Smith off on the right foot as they won 8-6 in both matches.  It looked as though Smith would take all three doubles for a decisive lead but Alexandra Steck and Kelli Cheung lost a heartbreaker at number 2 doubles bowing to Weingarten and Parikh 9-7 after the two Pioneers had a 7-2 lead.

Entering singles with a 2-1 lead, Margaret Anne Smith wowed the spectators as she dismantled her tall, strong opponent 6-0, 6-0.  From then on it was a battle between the two schools but Smith managed to stay strong and determined throughout eventually taking 5 out of the 6 singles.  Joanna Kim went three sets to overcome her opponent and Sam Peikes came from behind in both sets to, once again, bring in the winning team point.  Christine Yee, in her patient, persistent style edged her opponent to gain a 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win.  The back to back wins for Smith, however,  still left them one match win short of qualifying for the conference tournament.

Tim Klitch and the Team
Fall break did not end here as Smith rallied Sunday morning to a series of clinics offered by Tim Klitch of Austin Texas.  Tim is a national level tennis player ranked 11th in the men's 55 and over.  He brought his expertise and offered the team tips and strategies that they could immediately put into play.  He challenged the team to think beyond strokes and begin to cut down the size of the court and cut off angles through positioning and shot selection.  He demonstrated his prowess as he took each player, willing to step up to the challenge, in well orchestrated singles points leaving most defenseless.  The Smith team rose to the challenge and gained from the experience.

Next, Smith Tennis boarded a bus to Newport, Rhode Island where we visited the International Tennis Hall of Fame and all gained renewed appreciation for the history of this great game and those who have gained fame and success playing the game!  We had a spectacular fall day to travel and we moved from the Hall of Fame to Salve Regina, who graciously added us to their schedule, where we competed in a doubles scrimmage.  All 12 Smith team members traveling to Newport played in the six doubles matches and Smith was victorious in 4.  Dinner was next on the agenda and we dined in Newport before returning to campus.

It was a fun October break full of good memories, for the most part,  barring a traffic accident with three of the players.  The good news is that those players will be back in action very soon and we will need them as we head for the historic NEWITT tournament starting Friday, October 14.  We are hosting the event along with MHC so, if you are in the area, please plan to come and see some great tennis.