Case Western Reserve University’s head tennis coach Todd Wojtkowski could have been called “cautiously optimistic” at the beginning of the women’s season. He had lost not a single senior, the returning underclassmen continued to mature, and an award-studded group of freshman were assimilating to the pressures of collegiate athletics. That was coming off a year, which saw an improved 9-8 overall record.
At this point in the season, it would be fair to guess that Wojtkowski is downright ecstatic. The Case women’s tennis team is sitting pretty at a 16-2 overall record in dual matches. The Lady Spartans have fought their way into a 10-game winning streak, including a sweep this past weekend in the Central Region Shootout at Oberlin College. The team’s only losses this year have come to Division 1 opponent Cleveland State University (12-7) and regionally ranked No. 5 Denison University (7-8, 2-0).
The Spartans traveled to Oberlin College on April 6-7 to take part in the Central Region Shootout. The Spartans took on the likes of Hope College, Kalamazoo College, and Albion College. Over the weekend, they played a total of 21 matches and lost just three, all of which came at the hands of Hope College, a dual match the Spartans still won with relative ease at six games to three.
Standout sisters Erica and Alexandra Lim continued their calculated course of destruction, winning every one of their singles matches and combining on the doubles court to dominate the opposition. The sisters dropped only four games all weekend in doubles play to further justify their no. 5 regional ranking. Erica Lim, a junior coming to Cleveland by way of Fullerton, Calif., earned her third University Athletic Association Player of the Week Award this season for her work at the number one spot in both doubles and singles.
Against Kalamazoo College, the Lady Spartans’ second match of the Shootout, the Spartans showed why other UAA teams should be concerned. Firing on all cylinders, Case dropped a mere 10 games to the Hornets. Freshman Marianne Bonnano and junior Emily Pham, playing at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots respectively, didn’t lose a single game in either singles or doubles play. Kathleen Evers and Bianca Patel, playing at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, dropped a single game each, completing the sweep.
Despite the multitude of recent successes, the Spartans have perhaps their most difficult test coming up this weekend, when they will face nationally ranked and fellow UAA opponents No. 13 Washington University – St. Louis and No. 6 Chicago University. Both teams feature multiple regionally ranked players who will provide more than enough competition for the Spartans. Two players to watch are Chicago’s power-duo of seniors Kendra Higgins and Jennifer Kung. Both are ranked in the top five regionally in singles and are part of regionally ranked doubles teams.
With three dual matches left in the season, the UAA Tennis Championship Tournament is on the horizon. The tournament is hosted by Emory University in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The UAA, as it has been in the past, is arguably the strongest women’s tennis conference in the country, with five teams ranked in the top thirty nationally, and others, such as Case, threatening to break into the national rankings with upsets. The Spartans have an opportunity to get national attention; they just have to keep up their current level of competition.