So what is so great about the Seven Sisters' Tennis Championship hosted at Smith on April 11 and 12? If you really want to know, just ask the players who have participated in the event since 1983 until now.
The tournament is an odd round-robin format. The ITA recognizes only individual results from the event. There are only 5 participating schools (Vassar, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Bryn Mawr) since Barnard joined Columbia and Radcliffe joined Harvard for the Ivy Championships. So what is so special about this event? The participating team members will tell you about the healthy rivalry, the ability to compete against each school without tournament elimination, and the special shared camaraderie between players and coaches.
One highlight has always been the dinner accompanied by team introductions and an honoring of the seniors. With four seniors on the Smith team, the moment was all the more meaningful. Senior Andrea Tanco ran the tournament desk while seniors Seema Samawi, Jordan Dubin, and Ruth Yi all brought in wins for the Pioneers over the weekend. Smith ended the first day 1-1 with a win over Bryn Mawr and a loss to Vassar. Day two brought Smith face to face with MHC on the MHC indoor courts, a distinct advantage for the Lyons. The match ended with a 1-4 loss followed by a fast return to the Smith site to take on Wellesley (0-5). All team members contributed to match play whether in the line-up, exhibition positions, cheering from sidelines or involved in the banquet introductions. Alexandra Steck and Christine Yee both made appearances in the starting line-ups and Katie Hazen competed in exhibition. The successes were not limited to the seniors as Margaret Anne Smith (sophomore) and Samantha Peikes (first year) each earned a Smith point against Bryn Mawr with Sam bringing in a second point in a heart- stopping comeback tiebreak against Mount Holyoke College. While Sam was earning her win, Margaret Anne was engaged in what may be a Guinness Book of Records' longest rally with hundreds of balls hit back and forth on just one point of a single game and the longest first set ever against MHC's Ishita Tibrewal that lasted over two hours. Ishita finally prevailed going on to gain momentum and the second set. Additional Pioneers who helped bring in the six point total for Smith on Sat and Sun were Kelli Cheung and Anja Block. A special congratulations to Samantha Peikes and Margaret Anne Smith for being selected to the All-Tournament Team.
The story does not stop here as all teams gathered for the traditional banquet where teams mixed and shared commonalities and interests beyond the realm of tennis. Karen Kristoff (Smith Admissions officer) offered words of wisdom and each teams' captains made team introductions encapsulating the personality of each team member with a few words and a creative descriptive gift. Smith captains, Ruth Yi and Jordan Dubin, made a classy presentation and Margaret Anne Smith and Samantha Peikes entered the stage to honor our captains. It was a special evening indeed.
There was excitement, endurance, disappointment, satisfaction, frustration, patience, persistence and the list goes on. The emotions and the experiences were all rolled into the challenging and long two days. Former and current team members not in the match came to be a part of the event. Megan Carter and Ella Genasi Smith, two current students and former team members stayed through the Saturday matches. Vida Chen, in her residency program in CA, delayed her visit to support Smith while reminiscing about her Seven Sister Tennis days. President McCartney and her husband graced the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility to cheer for Smith Tennis. So what is so great about the Seven Sisters' Tennis Championship? Just ask someone who has been there. In spite of the sacrifices, barriers, obstacles, weather issues and court availability that is inherent to most tournaments; the team surmounted the obstacles and became tougher competitors and, most importantly, created Seven Sister Tennis memories to be treasured for a lifetime.