In a shocking development, the women’s tennis team suffered their first loss of the season, as their 12-game winning streak came to an end against Swarthmore College on Sunday, April 7.
The 5-4 loss saw the Lions (12-1) sweeping the doubles matches, but only sophomore Sarah Lippincott could win her singles match. For a team that doesn’t lose very often, this was a tough pill to swallow for the College.
“We did lose our first match on Sunday and it was very disappointing because we all know that we are a strong team and can compete with anyone we face,” sophomore Alex Bologno said. “These are the types of losses that will teach us what we need to work on and will in the end make us better players. This is exactly what we will be doing this coming week, helping us prepare for our big match on Sunday against Skidmore College.”
Entering the week, the women experienced a month layoff, but showed no signs of rust. In their 8-1 win over Washington College, most of the matches were not even close.
One that was close, however, was senior Karisse Bendijo’s match against Washington’s April Weaver. Bendijo won a tight first set 7-5, but dropped the second 3-6. In the deciding set, the senior took over and grabbed a 10-5 win.
“The person I played had a more aggressive game than I have,” Bendijo said. “I had to change my style of play and become more defensive. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I had my team and coaches behind me to support me.”
Following her lead, the rest of the College’s singles competitors refused to lose. Freshman Jasmine Muniz-Cadorette, freshman Emma Allen, Bologno, Lippincott and junior Tara Criscuolo were all successful in their matches.
In doubles, the women couldn’t complete the sweep, but were still impressive. The pair of Bendijo and senior Allison Tierney picked up an 8-4 win, while the duo of Bologno and Criscuolo sped their way to an 8-1 victory.
On Wednesday, April 3, the College participated in the New York University Doubles Tournament, in which the women played on the same courts used during the U. S. Open. It was a special experience for the Lions and was highlighted with four doubles teams collecting wins, along with Lippincott’s singles match win over NYU’s Ramya Pokala, 6-1, 2-6, 10-7. Despite the lack of team scoring, the women were still grateful to play on such a big stage.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Bendijo said. “To be able to step on a court where the pros have played was exhilarating. All I wanted to do was run around the court, lay on it, and enjoy the moment. We were there long enough to meet Fernando Verdasco.”
The team of Bendijo and Muniz-Cadorette shut out their opponents 6-0, while the teams of Bologno and Criscuolo, freshman Victoria Michels and sophomore Bianca Caracappa and freshman Kristina Koskinen and sophomore Megan Restua all came out on top by scores of 6-2, 6-3 and 6-3, respectively.
Next up was William Smith College on Saturday, April 6. This one was a struggle, as Bendijo was the only singles competitor to win her respective match. However, the Lions dominated the doubles territory, sweeping the opposition. The teams of Bendijo and Tierney, Muniz-Cadorette and Bologno, and Lippincott and Criscuolo all got crucial wins.
“Our doubles play has had a major impact on our winnings,” Bologno said. “Every tennis match starts with doubles and then proceeds to singles, so getting three points at the start is always on our mind.”
As for the men (11-0), they too refused to lose, starting the week off with an 8-1 drubbing of Washington College on Thursday, April 4.
Senior Marc Nichols got things started with a 6-3, 7-6, (7-3) win, while the rest of his teammates won. Senior T. J. Riley, sophomore Jack August, junior Howard Telson and freshman Pierce Cooper all dispatched the competition without much of a fight.
In doubles, there was a small challenge, but nothing the Lions couldn’t handle. Nichols and Telson breezed through their match 8-1, and August and senior Jordan Cruz took care of business 8-3. However, in the third match, Riley and Cooper were put to the test. Despite a close one, they pulled it out, 9-8 (7-1).
Onto the weekend, it was another day, another 8-1 victory, this time against Hobart College. Cruz, Riley, Cooper, Nichols and August all collected singles wins.
The Lions won all their doubles matches by scores of 8-4. The teams of Nichols/Telson, Buchbinder/Cruz and Riley/Cooper all won.
In possibly their biggest test of the season, the men faced off against the University of Rochester on Sunday, April 7 and barely won 5-4 with Cooper being the hero.
In the deciding match, the freshman managed to topple Joel Allen, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, showing that the Lions can win in the clutch too.
August and Cruz were the other singles winners, while the doubles teams of Nichols/Telson and Riley/August secured vital wins against an opponent that was far from easy.
Both teams have high hopes for the rest of the season, with perfection still a possibility for the men. As for the women, the loss has shifted their sights to goals on a larger scale.
“I hope we can achieve a higher national ranking,” Bendijo said. “I also would like to go further in the NCAA tournament. I just want to leave everything on the court and have no regrets when I leave TCNJ.”