Coming into the season ranked No. 20 in Division III, the Case Western Reserve University women’s tennis team challenged themselves with Division I competition against Cleveland State University (CSU). Although the Spartans fell to the Vikings, the young team was able to gain some very valuable experience early in the season that can prove important moving forward.
Playing at the Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion the CWRU women’s tennis team opened up their 2017 spring season with a 7-0 loss against Cleveland State University on Friday Feb. 10. The loss dropped the Spartans dropped to 0-1 on the young season while the Vikings went to 2-4.
Head Coach Kirsten Gambrell sees the opening match more as a learning moment for a young team rather than a crushing opening loss.
“Our match against Cleveland State last Friday was a tough night against a great Division I opponent,” she said. “Although we didn’t get the results we wanted, we learned a lot about what we need to improve upon.”
In one of the closer matches, second-year student Jessica Liu and third-year student Nina Cepeda were able to take two games from the CSU opponents in the second doubles match. In first singles, third-year student Nithya Kanagasegar was able to take three games in the first set and four games in the second set. Kanagasegar’s efforts proved not enough as she eventually dropped the match. First-year student Katrin Gurvich put up a strong fight in sixth singles winning four games in her second set.
This season’s edition of the CWRU women’s tennis team is a particularly young group. Gurvich is one of the four members who are first-year students. The other three are Lauren Beier, Katie Busch and Kendal Holladay. The Spartans only have two fourth-year students who will look to lead this team and help them grow. They are Kennedy Mulholland and captain Jennifer Lowe.
“The team is different with a lot of new faces in the lineup this year,” said Gambrell. “The young energy and talent from our underclassmen has been a great balance with the upperclassmen who have a great deal of experience to draw from. It’s been exciting to have a new dynamic on the team this year.”
The Spartans will look to bounce back next weekend, when the team takes on 34th ranked Hope College on Friday, Feb. 17 and 17th ranked Kalamazoo College on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Cleveland Skating Club. Facing Division III competition will likely present more winnable matches for the CWRU student-athletes.