Both Swarthmore tennis teams earned spots in the Centennial Conference playoffs by virtue of their impressive regular seasons. The women blew through the Centennial Conference in the regular season, winning their first nine matches before falling Saturday to Johns Hopkins. Meanwhile, the men’s team earned the Conference’s number four seed.
The women’s team thoroughly dominated throughout much of the season, winning five of their ten Conference matches in shutout fashion, 9-0. The team will play host to Dickinson in Saturday’s semifinal.
Swarthmore had little trouble with the Red Devils the last time the two teams met, winning 9-0 on April 20. The Garnet won several close matches that day, especially in doubles play. Both the No. 1 doubles team of Emily Rosenblum ’13 and Lia Carlson ’14, and the No. 2 doubles team of Katie Samuelson ’14 and Brooke Wilkins ‘14 for the Garnet won their matches 8-6. Stephanie Chia ’13 and Epiphany English ’14 also earned a doubles victory, winning 8-4.
In singles play, Carlson, Rosenblum, Chia and Samuelson all won their matches, while Kelsey Johnson ’13 and Jackie Lane ’16 contributed victories as well. Johnson credited the team’s success in close matches to its commitment to supporting each other, saying that, “Our team has played very well under pressure and has supported each other during tough matches. Having three teammates cheering loudly behind your court can really make a difference”.
While Swarthmore’s season was highlighted by its nine game Conference winning streak, Johnson cited a nonconference win, against The College of New Jersey, as having “helped propel us through the rest of the season”. The win came on April 7 by a score of 5-4 over the then-undefeated Lions, and it instilled an attitude in the Garnet that no match could ever be out of reach. Swarthmore trailed 3-0 after doubles before rallying, winning its final four matches to stun TCNJ. Carlson, Rosenblum, Johnson, Chia and Gayatri Iyengar ’15 were victorious for the Garnet in a win that gave the team the confidence to compete against any opponent.
If Swarthmore wins its match on Saturday, it will likely travel to top-seeded Johns Hopkins for Sunday’s final. The Blue Jays handed Swarthmore its only loss of the season, by a score of 9-0, and the Garnet will look to pull the upset and advance on to the NCAA Tournament.
On the men’s side, Swarthmore battled through injuries and a tough Centennial Conference schedule, posting a 6-3 record. Swarthmore hosted fifth-seeded Ursinus on Wednesday, with the winner traveling to play top-seeded Johns Hopkins on Saturday. Malik Mubeen ’13 said that the team looks forward to the challenge of a rematch with the Blue Jays, saying, “we want to dominate our first round match against Ursinus so we can earn another shot at Johns Hopkins in the next match”.
Although Swarthmore fell, 7-2 to the Blue Jays the last time the teams met, on March 30, Mubeen said, “we’re a different team now than when we played Hopkins a few weeks ago, so we’re looking forward to another potential matchup with them”. Mubeen stressed consistency, saying that, “the main thing we need to improve on is making sure we play consistent, complete matches. We have had a few flashes of brilliance this year that we want to try to channel into the conference tournament”.
Swarthmore’s most recent win came April 24 over Washington College, by a score of 9-0. As usual, Mubeen and James Wieler ’13 led Swarthmore with multiple wins. Anthony Collard ‘14 and Max Sacks ‘15 also won both their singles and doubles matches, while Max Kaye ’14, Christian Carcione ’14, Preston Poon ’14 and Irving Stone ’15 were victorious as well.
In order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, Swarthmore will need to win all three of its playoff matches. Wieler, however, was undaunted by the challenge, saying that, “we control our own destiny. Win and you’re in.” Wieler also stressed the importance of winning doubles matches, saying that doing so “provides a huge momentum boost going into singles”. Despite being the number four seed, Swarthmore remains confident; Wieler said that, “over the past two years, our team has proven that we can beat any team on any given day when we are playing at our best”.