Women’s, men’s tennis teams roll over opponents

Epiphany English defeated Laura Pollard in a tough, three-set contest. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

It was an excellent weekend for Garnet tennis, as both the men’s and women’s teams had little difficulty picking up victories in convincing fashion.

The Swarthmore women had one of their most impressive showings of the year on Sunday afternoon, shutting out McDaniel 9-0 at home to begin the season’s slate of conference matches.
Swarthmore (2-1, 1-0 in conference) completely overmatched the Green Terror (1-2, 1-0 in conference), who won only one set in all nine matches.

Lia Carlson (right) and Emily Rosenblum won their doubles match. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

In singles play, four of the six Garnet players defeated their opponents without dropping a single game. In the Number 1 and Number 2 positions, Lia Carlson ’14 and Kelsey Johnson ’13 shut out Brittany Starlings and Devan Hamric, respectively, by scores of 6-0, 6-0.

The other two singles shutouts came in the Numbers 5 and 6 positions, as Gayatri Iyengar ’15 blanked Lauren Lewis while Nadeen Hamza ’15 did the same to Elise O’Meara.

“Since I grew up in Cairo and have only been playing tennis on clay courts, the game on clay courts really only depends on consistency,” Hamza said in an email.

“Going back to Barcelona and playing on clay courts brought back many skills I had learned. Going back into the game with consistency definitely helped me win that match with very few errors especially since I depend on my forehand for most of my winner shots.”

In the Number 3 singles match, Katie Samuelson ’14 defeated Patron English 6-3, 6-1, while Number 4 Epiphany English ’14 faced a tough match-up against Laura Pollard, but pulled it out in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 10-2.

It was the same story in doubles play, as Swarthmore racked up three more shutouts to bring their total on the day to seven.

Carlson and Emily Rosenblum ’13 blanked Starlings and Patron at Number 1, Johnson and English defeated Pollard and Hamric at Number 2, while Iyengar and Brooke Wilkins ’14 finished off the rout with an 8-0 win over Lewis and O’Meara.

Although the Garnet women came in confident against the Green Terror, they nevertheless appreciated the sportsmanship of their opponent.

“They are one of the weaker teams in the conference so we were confident, but they are also certainly one of the nicest,” Johnson said of McDaniel.

“Some of the teams we play can honestly be extremely unpleasant. Regardless of the outcome, it is always nice to play a fair team.”

On the men’s side, the team moved to 5-6 on the year with a 6-3 victory over TCNJ. Swarthmore won two of the its three doubles matches behind the duos of captains Zak Kelm ’12 and Max Bressman ’12 as well as sophomores Max Kaye ’14 and Christian Carcione ’14. Playing out of the Number 1 position, Kelm and Bressman defeated TJ Riley and Marc Nichols by a score of 8-5.

Kaye and Carcione had an even easier time with their victory, dispatching TCNJ’s Steven Fernandez and Jordan Cruz 8-3.

Swarthmore’s lone doubles loss came in the Number 2 position, as Anthony Collard ’14 and Daniel Park ’14 fell 8-3 to Fernandez and Howard Telson.

With a 2-1 lead from doubles, Swarthmore built on their early success in the singles matches, winning four of six to take the overall competition.

After Kelm fell to TJ Riley (5-7, 6-3, 6-1), the Garnet men clinched victory by ripping off four consecutive singles wins. The streak started with Collard, who avenged his doubles loss to Fernandez with a breezy 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Bressman had to fight to defeat TCNJ’s Nichols, but eventually put his opponent away (2-6, 7-6, 7-4).

Out of the Number 4 position, Kaye also rallied from one set down to beat Howard Telson (3-6, 6-4, 6-3).

Finally, Preston Poon ’14 finished off the streak with a decisive 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniel Lee.

Despite a late loss by Park to TCNJ’s Gabe Allen (6-4, 6-0), the Garnet had already ensured themselves of a win over their regional rival.

Swarthmore’s streak came despite the best efforts of the TCNJ home crowd.

“It was St. Patty’s Day, and so all of their frat brothers came out [in support for the TCNJ team] and screamed at us the whole time,” Kaye said.

“It was hard to get focused, and when I lost the first set, I realized it was just a focus issue, and so once I started going for shots and ignoring the crowd, I started to play better.”

Bressman was more direct in his assessment of the home fans.

“I think our guys did a great job of handling the obnoxious crowd at TCNJ,” Bressman said in an email. “It gave our opponents a bunch of energy and it was obvious that they were trying to distract us. But we were the stronger team and that showed in the end.”

The win over TCNJ comes in the first contest since the men’s team achieved a national ranking based off their performance over spring break in California.

Last Friday, Campbell’s ITA Division III National Poll ranked Swarthmore 20th in men’s tennis, the first time since 2007 that the men’s team has been nationally ranked.

“Once we got our team chemistry figured out, and got really settled in, we started playing well as a whole team,” Kaye said. “It really was a team effort that got us to the national rankings, hard work and focus and belief in ourselves. We actually believed that we could win, we’ve been waiting for this ever since I got here, and we finally got the big upsets [in California].”

Kelm hopes that the ranking will signal a return to form for the tennis team.

“While the men’s tennis team has been strong in recent years, it has not quite reached the level of many past Swarthmore teams which were typically competing for and winning national championships,” he said.

“These recent wins that led to our national ranking and hopefully many more wins this season should help the team get back to that high level.”

Men’s tennis resumes play this afternoon when they take on Ursinus on the road at 4 p.m.

The women’s team will take on TCNJ this Saturday at 1 p.m.

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