Sunday, September 11, 2016

Smith Tennis was on the road two weeks in a row with the toughest of conference competition.  Saturday, September 3, the team traveled to Wellesley College for the first of the conference match this fall.  Sans Samantha Peikes due to an ankle sprain, Smith was still able to put a formidable lineup forward but only able to convert one match to a win.  Noa Dubin paired up with Joanna Kim but the attacking team for Smith was not able to displace the Wellesley team of Chen and Huang and they went down 1-8.    Margaret Anne Smith partnered with first year, Toula Sierros from Northampton.  The newly formed doubles combo showed good promise for the future although they were not able to earn a victory this day.  The senior team of Alexandra Steck and Kelli Cheung met their match losing to Hu and Wellesley first year Selina Peng 1-8.  Toula returned to singles to anchor the 5th postiion and showed her variety of strokes as she angled, sliced and passed her opponent controlling the rhythm and momentum of the match and securing the only Smith win of the day in a three set battle 6-2, 3-6, (10-5) over Sojin Ki.  In the typical persistent and effective style dreaded by most of her opponents, Margaret Anne Smith kept Hernandez on the court, at the number 4 singles position, the longest but was finally was forced to succumb to the harder hitting Wellesley player.  Although Wellesley took the win,  Margaret Anne, affectionally known as Emmay, controlled the match, the tempo and the pace of the game taking  Hernandez's weapons away and leaving her with only dogged determination and patience in order to outlast Emmay 6-3, 6-3 in a match that lasted over 2 hours.

Smith returned to the Wellesley area on September 11 to face Babson at their home site.  Strong storms earlier in the day delayed the start of the match but that did not seem to deter the Beavers as they jumped to an early lead and held it throughout the match defeating Smith 9-0.  Although Samantha Peikes was back in the line-up, she played only singles and Noa Dubin and Joanna Kim, once again, paired up at number one doubles.  The points were exciting, hard hitting and precise as the two teams exchanged powerful groundstrokes and well executed volleys.  Smith looked strong at 1 and the 1-8 lose did not tell the entire story.  Margaret Anne Smith and Toula Sierros are developing as a doubles team and the 2-8 loss to Kyle Kam and Claire Foster (BAB) did not seem to dampen the Smith duo's enthusiasm for the partnership or doubles play.  Leigh Johnston and Kara Van Allen stepped up to third doubles and gave their best in a fast moving game ending 8-0 for Babson.   Alexandra Steck and Kelli Cheung took an exhibition position on this day, playing solid doubles at the number 4 position.  Both are  recovering from injuries.

Noa Dubin came out of the blocks swinging at number 1 singles but was forced to retire her match due to sickness.  Joanna Kim, at number 3 singles, used her strength and strategy to catch her opponent off guard in many points but she was not able to put enough together to grab but one game in the match.   Toula Sierros , 5th singles, was not as fortunate this week as she was in the Wellseley match and she bowed to Kylie Kam 6-0, 6-0.  Christine Yee, 6th singles, gave her best as always.  In her fighting, "never give up" style, Christine overcame a wrist injury to compete earning 2 games against Emily Roeper.

Samantha Peikes  and Margaret Anne Smith were the last two singles players on court at the number 2 and 4 singles positions respectively.  Both exhibited long rallies and solid strategies as they battled on adjacent courts with the remainder of each team looking on.  Both Sam and Emmay stayed even with their opponents throughout the match.  Margaret Anne dropped her first set 6-2 but came back strong in the second set at 4-4 before suffering a 4-6 loss that could have gone either way.  Clare Foster was finally able to pick up the win at 4th singles but not without a battle.  Samantha Peikes took Emmay's reputation by being the last player on the court.  Sam's close 6-3, 6-3 loss to Ramirez was a result of a service break in each set and was characterized by Sam's decisive and attacking style.  Her use of directionals was apparent as she showed no fear in changing direction and pace of her shots.

Special acknowledgement goes to all of our exhibition players as well as those scheduled to play but did not have a match.  On Septemeber 11, those not previously mentioned include Emma Essenmacher  and Evie Hoffman scheduled for 5th doubles but did not play because Babson did not field a 5th doubles that day.  Exhibition singles players Tess Ostoyich and Emily Berry played at number 7 and 8 respectively.  Smith is fortunate to have a deep team of devoted team members who give their best whether in competition or on the sideline.  Thanks to all.

The challenge this week is for the Smith players to acknowledge the small victories and areas of improvement and to move ahead to opponent, Wheaton College.  Wheaton will travel to Northampton on September 17 for a 12n match up of the conference teams.