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.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Exciting NEWMAC win for Smith Tennis on Mountain Day!

Smith Tennis put it all together to claim a NEWMAC 6-3 victory over Clark. Check it out!
Here is the write up from our web page.  Great play by a special team.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Smith Tangles With MIT With 1-8 Result

Although it was a very one sided match, several singles matches may have broken records for the number of balls played in relation to games earned. The two on court the longest were captains Margaret Anne Smith (number 4 singles) and Samantha Peikes (number 2 singles).  Margaret Anne played over two hours rallying hundreds of shots with Serena Le but she was not able to string enough points together for a game. Sam played offensive tennis against Lara Rakolevic, keeping the ball in play for a minimum of 10-12 exchanges before her opponent was able to "one better" her.

Smith's lone singles point came from the number three position where Joanna Kim had the walkover victory when MIT opponent Sharlene Song had to pull out due to injury. 

The one-sided scores for the Beavers did  not tell the doubles story since the doubles players for Smith looked the best they have looked all season.  Solid improvement in doubles is good news with the NEWITT right around the corner. 

Smith takes on Clark University Wednesday, October 5.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Springfield Edges Smith 4-5

The tennis match went down to the wire on Tuesday night at Springfield College as Smith and Springfield battled it out to a 5-4 win for The Pride.  Springfield President Mary Beth Cooper was in attendance as the match was finally decided in the second singles position after hours of competition. Smith had a slow start in doubles with a new partnership.  The line up change was forced when Noa Dubin was sidelined with an injury. Stepping up to the challenge at  number 1 doubles, Margaret Anne Smith played her steady game while paired with Joanna Kim. Joanna, however, could not find her strokes or the court in her doubles play that night and they lost 8-2. The new combo of Samantha Peikes and Janan Fugel played heady doubles doing what they needed to defeat Litchfield and Plazza 8-3 and giving Smith their first point of the night.  Christine Yee and Kelli Cheung were not so fortunate at third doubles allowing Etter and Freadman to control the match to an 8-3 win for the Pride.

Entering singles with a match score of 1-2, Margaret Anne Smith got down to business sizing up her opponent, Rachel Litchfield, at number 3 singles and winning 6-0, 6-1.  Toula Sierros was spraying balls this night and her brilliant ground stokes ended wide or long allowing her opponent, Emily Etter to breeze by with a 6-0, 6-1 win.  Janan Fugel , at 5 singles, fought hard but lost 6-0, 6-1 as well. Kelli Cheung anchored the 6 singles position for Smith and she showed poise, variety and control to earn a decisive victory over Nicole Plazza 6-3, 6-2.

All the while Samantha Peikes, affectionately known as Sammi, was battling it out at number 1 with Rachel London. Sam earned a Smith victory that night with her no nonsense style of play as she anticipated every move made by her opponent and moved to counter each stroke.  With one match left on court and the match score 4-4, Joanna Kim found herself with the ability to decide the outcome. After a slow start in doubles, Joanna redeemed herself in her singles play by playing an aggressive style to the finish. Having lost the first set 0-6 to Melissa Parrish at number 2 singles, Joanna dug deep holding on as she fought hard to regain momentum. It was a brilliant effort on her part but not enough to give her the victory and the Smith Pioneers walked away with a tough loss.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

ITA Regional Tournament

Even though there were no wins for Smith on the first day of the ITA regional tournament, all four Smith tennis representatives courageously stepped up to the competition and showed improvement in each and every match. This year's event was hosted by MIT and the four tennis players representing Smith College Tennis played with courage and conviction.  They demonstrated to everyone that they can compete at this highest competitive level of division lll.  Noa Dubin, Sam Peikes, Joanna Kim and Margaret Anne Smith all attacked the competition with a positive spirit and an aggressive game.  Confident but humble, they each fought hard and they all seemed to enjoy the challenge. Noa and Sam competed in the front draw singles against Middlebury and Babson respectively. Joanna and Margaret Anne teamed up with Joanna to play Middlebury in the doubles. Sam, Margaret Anne and Joanna also each played consolation single matches on the first day.  

There was still more tournament action for the Pioneers on day 2.   Division III is all about participation and Smith Tennis embodied that  philosophy this weekend.  Although it was best for Joanna Kim to sit out of the Saturday matches to be ready for Springfield on Tuesday, Noa Dubin, Margaret Anne Smith and Sam Peikes jumped into the singles consolation competing against  Middlebury, Bowdoin, Tufts and Nichols. They wisely used the match ups against all of the different styles of play to gain valuable competitive experience.  

See the complete listing of ITA results and the ITA draws:

Smith tennis will be on the road this week with conference rival, Springfield College on Tuesday, September 27 and back on the road Oct 1 for a double header with Emerson and MIT.