Sunday, September 18, 2016

Smith Has Best Spirit Regardless of Match Results

The Spirited Smith Tennis Team!
Smith Tennis hosted the Lyons of Wheaton College on, without a doubt, the most beautiful day of the fall.  September 17, following the introductions and a beautiful a cappella version of the national anthem by team member Margaret Anne Smith, the two teams took to the courts. Wheaton would end the eventual winner 6-3 but not without an exciting exchange of rallies and well crafted play that lasted from 1pm until 5pm.

Smith Tennis would have won the spirit award this week if one were given.  The team support is unparalleled as each rallied behind their teammates giving the extra edge.  The match was in the balance until close to the end and the unity and spirit helped to create a fun and exciting day.  In doubles, Kelli Cheung and Christine Yee, seniors, stepped up at third doubles to give Smith the first point of the match.  They showed determination, good team work and enthusiasm which helped set the stage for the rest of the day.  Exhibition doubles players Leigh Johnston and Kara Van Allen also joined the winning doubles celebrating small victories throughout the match.

Singles started with Noa Dubin facing sophomore, Florida junior tennis stand out, Ines de Bracamonte and staying on court through a close 6-4, 6-2 match .  Although Wheaton took the match, it was not without exchange of strong groundstrokes and exciting points.  Noa discovered that she can be in the hunt with all level players as she answered the forceful shots with her own strong ground stokes and not backing off the pace.  Noa is always fun to watch compete as she raises her game a notch in competition.

Sam in action
Sam Peikes found herself against a rise ball player with very fast and flat strokes.  First year,   Isabelle Garvanne took the ball early forcing Sam back off the baseline.   Inititally, it seemed to take Sam off balance but in typical Samantha Peikes style, she exclaimed to her coaches that she needed to get more balls in play and that she did.  She matched her opponent toe to toe but she could not build up enough momentum to turn the match around eventually losing 6-2, 6-3.  Sam appeared to never lose her love of the "battle" throughout the match as she stayed in each point and ended with a satisfactory grin!

Toula Sierros played number 5 singles this day.  She owns more shots then can be named.  She is a multi talented player with a big heart.  She can topspin, side spin, underspin, and confusespin her opponent.  She owns it all in her laid back easy going style.  So why no win for Toula on Saturday.  Her consistency and shot selection is still being developed.  But watch out, when she figures out where those lines are on the court, few will be able to stop her!

Margaret Anne Smith stepped onto the court at number 4 singles against Wheaton opponent Connor O'Keefe and started dismantling her opponent's game from the first ball.  She kept her opponent from hitting in her strike zone by hitting high deep shots whether with or against the breezy windy conditions.  Persistent and unflappable, Margaret Anne is the consummate competitor.  She lets nothing get under her skin and she has a positive spirit even during the most challenging of points.  Her patient style brought in another win for Smith.

Janan Fugel returned to the lineup after a minor injury.  Like Toula, Janan has a tool box of strokes and tactics offering her many options.  She used them all in her Saturday match against Arielle Klopsis and she even surprised herself on the effectiveness of her slice save that left her opponent missing potentially easy winners.  Janan took her match to a third set tiebreak but her opponent was able to slip by.

Joanna Kim, at number 3 singles,  just keeps getting better in competition.  She has recognized the importance of balancing the four parts of the game using her physical strength and racket execution to combine with her developing mental and tactical sides.  She stayed mentally steady throughout always looking for opportunities to sneak in and finish the point.  She endured her opponent and conditions and was last on the court bringing in an important win for Smith 6-4, 6-4.

It should be mentioned that our exhibition players all played on Saturday and they continue to improve providing a positive support for the team.  Emma EssenmacherEvie HoffmanLeigh Johnston,Tess OstoyichKara Van Allen and Emily Barry all played in exhibition matches bringing in several wins and giving stability and depth to the starting lineup.  This is the group providing much of the sideline spirit throughout.  Alexandra Steck acted as an assistant. She is currently nursing an injury that has kept her on the sidelines for a time.  Her commitment also resonates with this team as she stayed throughout the match offering support in many ways.

All in all, the Smith vs Wheaton tennis match provided an exciting venue for the spectators.  There were close and exciting matches wherever you looked this day.  A big thanks goes out to all who came to the match to support the Pioneers.  Smith will be back in action at home against arch rival, Mount Holyoke College, on Tuesday at 5pm.  Please return to support this enthusiastic group.  We guarantee you will enjoy the time.