This weekend posed the biggest challenge of the season for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams. The Lions made the trek to William Smith College in upstate New York to participate in the Wilson-Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Championship and represented the College well, advancing into the later rounds of play.
The College had their strongest players battling against the rest of the Northeast and came home with considerable success.
On the women’s side, freshman Christina Contrafatto and sophomores Ayumi Yamazaki and Kristen Turturiello fought for the singles title. The tandems of Contrafatto with junior captain Jackie Gavornik and Turturiello with senior Katie D’Amato competed for the doubles crown.
All three singles players advanced to the quarterfinals, marking the first time that head coach Scott Dicheck had such success in his career.
Yamazaki and Contrafatto both advanced to the semi-final round, but fell to top-seeded Debbie Sharnak of Vassar, 6-0, 6-0 and Vassar’s Debbie Graham, 6-7 (1), 7-6(5), 6-0, respectively.
In doubles action, Contrafatto and Gavornik fell to third-seeded Aimee Hayes and Kerry Smith of New York University to drop from the tournament after two wins.
Turturiello and D’Amato opened with a 9-8 (7) victory over the State University of New York at Oneonta’s Laura Kent and Nan Lindell. They fell in the next round to Hamilton College’s Ann Coleman and Tracy Donovan, 8-6.
The regional tournament is not set up like a normal match. Emphasis is put on individual play, rather than the team.
The top singles competitors, as well as a school’s top double teams compete against representatives form other schools in the region. The overall winners from the single and double pools automatically advance to the National Tournament which is held in Florida.
D’Amato said she felt that the tournament “showed (we) had a strong team because many of the girls advanced quite far in the competition.”
The men’s team enjoyed considerable success as well. Competing at singles were sophomores Ryan Carty and Corey Ball, freshman Mike Klimchak and junior Justin Cook. The duos of Cook and Klimchak, Carty and Ball, and freshman Sonny Pollosco and senior Victor Lai challenged the other schools in the doubles bracket.
In Sunday’s doubles play, after successful outings on Saturday, the Lions’ duo of Klimchak and Cook lost to Eric Hauser and Thanos Kautarelis of Skidmore, 8-5. Carty and Ball lost to Hobart College’s Pete Pine and Adam Raffga, 8-4, to fall from the tournament.
Cook said the weekend was bittersweet for the team. “We did not get great draws and were all eliminated, yet we almost beat the top player,” he said. “There are many positives we can take from it.”
In single’s action, the spotlight was on Carty all weekend. After the quarterfinals, he advanced to the semifinals after beating Skidmore University’s Nat Temin on Saturday 6-2, 6-2. He then fell in the semifinals to Pete Pine, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 of Hobart.
However, the scores do not reflect Carty’s determination. He went on to compete after suffering from cramping and heatstroke. Ball recognized the heart of his teammate. “He could have easily forfeited the doubles match, but refused to,” he said.
Dicheck agreed with Ball. “Ryan played incredibly and has made immense improvements since last spring,” Dicheck said. “It was a grueling tournament, and we all played great. I’m looking forward to the future for Ryan, as well as the rest of the team.”