For the past 25 years, the College has developed an autumn tradition as consistent and definite as the brisk, cool air and multi-colored leaves falling around campus. The women’s tennis team claimed their 26th consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship (NJAC), along with their 126th consecutive in-conference victory with a win over Ramapo College on Sunday.
To conclude their fall 2008 regular season, the Lions shut out the Roadrunners 9-0 to improve their undefeated record to 5-0. With this victory, the Lions’ NJAC Championship streak, which dates back to the conference’s creation in 1982, is kept alive for another year as the College looks ahead to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Nationals on Oct. 16.
“Since my freshman year, the goal of the fall season has always been to retain our conference title,” senior Haley Kutner said. “Each year we begin the season with the intention of building on the success of the year before. We don’t take any match lightly and use each to help us with the next match in preparation for the main season’s competition and ideally for nationals in the spring.”
It has become quite clear that no match is taken lightly by this team, as they defeated Ramapo with ease. Each of the six singles players and all three doubles teams were victorious, but the most dominant performances were put on by junior Stefanie Haar, who defeated junior Kristine Austria 6-1, 6-1, and Kutner, who got the win over freshman Laura Strandberg 6-0, 6-1.
Freshman Emily Petersack also had an impressive showing, defeating senior Liza Wyble 6-1, 6-0. In doubles action, Kutner and freshman Christie Pollin had the most impressive performance of the day as they shut out Roadrunners’ juniors Alison Tukel and Wyble 8-0.
What makes the College’s shutout of the 9-4 Ramapo squad all the more impressive is this was the team’s fourth match in three days. The Lions faced off against William Paterson and Kean University on Saturday, and traveled north to take on Rutgers University-Newark Friday. The College opened its congested schedule with a 9-0 thrashing of the Scarlet Raiders.
Out of the 12 individual singles sets, eight were shutouts, giving the Lions a decisive victory. Pollin, Petersack and senior Lindsay Katzel posted complete 6-0, 6-0, shutouts, while Haar, freshman Felice Trinh and Kutner also had strong victories.
The Lions were overpowering in doubles as well, handing Rutgers-Newark their third NJAC loss of the season. This win was number 100 for Coach Scott Dicheck, who is in his ninth season of service for the College. Dicheck is now 100-30 in dual meets as head coach of the Lions.
“We’ve had a lot of good players over the years and with their hard work the credit goes to them,” Dicheck said.
After a night of much-needed rest, the Lions went back
to work Saturday morning, taking on the Kean University Cougars on their home court. The College earned its second shutout in as many days, taking down the Cougars 9-0. The Lions dropped only two games in 12 sets.
“I have never played so well in my entire tennis career,” Pollin said. “College tennis really brings out competitiveness and you find out what kind of player you are by playing teams that have very different styles. You are forced to pull out everything you have.”
In their second match of the doubleheader, the College dispatched the Pioneers of William Paterson University 9-0, completing their conference dominance.
Kutner and Katzel posted flawless victories in their singles matches, and the duos of Haar/Trinh and Petersack and junior Tamra Wroblesky were perfect in their doubles matches. Haar’s performances in the first singles and second doubles slots have been key to the success of the team all season. Haar finishes her fall 2008 season with an outstanding combined career record of 112-36.
The College’s women’s tennis team has beaten and shut out each opponent they have faced, and with Pollin and Kutner headed to the ITA Nationals in Mobile, Ala., on Oct. 16, the team has plenty to look forward to.
Pollin and Kutner’s ITA doubles regional championship was the standout of the season, but there has not been one blemish, mistake or letdown for the Lions this season.
“Winning doubles and becoming an All-American has definitely been the greatest reward for all of the time and energy I put into tennis over the past years,” Kutner said.
Discussing her future, Pollin said, “It was shocking, I had doubts about even making the team, but I really surprised myself. I now look forward to four more years of being with this great group.”