The 2016 Case Western Reserve University tennis team began their season this past Saturday, beating Kenyon College 6-3. The Spartans came into this match as favorites ranked 20th in Division III and were able to fend of the unranked Kenyon team.
CWRU got strong play from their doubles pairings winning two out of the three matches. The pairing of second-year student Nithya Kanagasegar and fourth-year student Surya Khadilkar were able to defeated Kenyon’s Diana Aboubakare and Samantha Murphy 8-3 in the first doubles match, while the third pairing of third-year student Jennifer Lowe and fourth-year student Michelle Djohan, were able to win a decisive 8-1 match over Kenyon’s Jenna Murray and Alyssa Moreau. The Spartans fell in the second doubles match as the grouping of second-year student Nina Cepeda and fourth-year student and captain Taylor Sweeney were unable to win the close 8-6 match against Maggie Sweeney and Grace Winslow.
Head Coach Kirsten Gambrell was very pleased with the way her doubles pairs played.
“I believe it gave us a great deal of confidence and momentum heading into singles,” said Gambrell.
But even with this strong play Gambrell sees need for improvement.
“Our doubles need to get a lot better before we face some highly ranked teams in March,” said Gambrell, “but the Kenyon match was a step in the right direction.”
CWRU was able to keep the momentum going, winning four of the six singles matches to seal the team win. Sweeney, first-year student Jessica Liu, Djohan and Khadilkar, number two, three, four and five singles respectively, were all able to get the upper hand on their opponents.
Gambrell was very pleased with the way the singles matches went and realizes that they will be heavily relied on for her team to have a successful season.
“We are incredibly deep all the way down the singles lineup and we do a great job of being consistent and hustling for every ball,” said Gambrell.
While it was a successful start to a long season, the team realizes there is a lot of work still to be done.
Moving forward Gambrell is trying to get her team fitter, better at holding serve and more prepared for pressure situations. She feels that these factors will be key in guiding her team to a successful first half of the season.
The team will put their new skills to the test in their next two matches when they take on 27th ranked Hope College on Saturday, Feb. 13, and 38th ranked Kalamazoo College on Sunday, Feb. 14.