By Spencer MacDonald
Bringing down the Ohio Northern Polar Bears 6-3, the Kalamazoo College Women’s Tennis team starts the season off right.
The Kalamazoo College women’s tennis team kicked off their season with a 6-3 win over the Ohio Northern Polar Bears on Saturday, February 8. The Hornets trailed two to one after the doubles matches, but proceeded to win five of the six singles to avenge last year’s 5-4 loss to Ohio Northern.
Sarah Woods and Jenna Riehl easily handled ONU’s Christina Corbean and Brittany Toney in one doubles match winning with a score of 8-3, and although the Hornets struggled in second and third doubles, they dominated singles with Sarah Woods, Sabrina Dass, Ania Latala, and Olivia Bouchard, all dispatching their opponent in straight sets. Senior captain Jenna Riehl also added to her undefeated day with a three-set singles victory.
“We were a little nervous during doubles,” said Riehl. “We really couldn’t get our serves in at first, but we pulled through and got the win.”
Kalamazoo came into the match ranked 15th in the region while the Polar Bears boasted the number 13 spot. ONU returned to Markin Racquet Center after their victory over the unranked Hornets last year; however, it was a very different, more determined Kalamazoo team that met them on Saturday. After suffering a defeat last season to the then ranked 15th in the region, Polar Bears, the Hornets earned a much needed win to open up their 2014 season.
“We lost to them 4-5 last year,” said junior captain Olivia Bouchard following the victory. “I always think about last year’s match so it was really important to get the win. It’s good to start out undefeated.”
The Hornets are coming off of a solid year in 2013, finishing with a 13-8 record (7-1 in the MIAA). Kalamazoo finished second in the conference, trailing only behind Hope College as the Dutchmen went a perfect 8-0 in conference play. Though the team is young, they have been getting contributions from all across their lineup, including sophomore and number-one singles player, Sarah Woods. As a freshman, Woods made a deep run in last year’s NCAA tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals before getting knocked out by Middlebury’s Loz-Sze Leung, who would eventually go on to win the national championship.
With Woods returning with a year under her belt, coupled with the leadership and play of captains Riehl, Bouchard and Kelsey Moran, the young Hornets’ team is in position to make a run at the MIAA championship and a potential NCAA tournament berth.
During the 2013 season, Woods went 26-3 overall in singles (8-0 MIAA) and teamed up with Bouchard to finish 20-6 in doubles, including an undefeated MIAA run for the pair. Riehl added a 6-2 record in both singles and doubles in MIAA play and Moran finished at the 6-1 mark in conference play. The Hornets will look to exploit their depth in the MIAA and develop their young talent.
“Our lineup is going to be loaded,” said Bouchard. “We are young but we’ve had a full year of our players being in the lineup so we have a much higher experience level. That will be very beneficial in the future.”
The Hornets return to action Saturday, Feb. 15 at home against Baldwin Wallace University in the Markin Racquet Center at 1:00 PM.