The Case Western Reserve University women’s tennis team has moved to .500 so far in the spring season as the ladies get ready to head into the last month of their season with outdoor play. Facing off against six nationally ranked opponents in their last nine matches, the team has been tested since opening the season 3-0 in February. The ladies were challenged with matches versus Johns Hopkins University, Skidmore College and the University of California, Santa Cruz in Fredericksburg, Va. during the Blue/Grey Invitational on the weekend of March 28.
The Spartans kicked things off on Friday with their match against the Banana Slugs from UC Santa Cruz. The team started off slower than usual, winning only one of the doubles matches against the traditionally tough opponent from the west coast. But the ladies had a great day in singles, taking five of the six match ups for a 6-3 win. Taylor Sweeney and Michelle Djohan were the winning doubles team and also won their separate singles matches. Joining them in victory was Marianne Bonanno, Sarah Berchuck and Surya Khadilkar.
Saturday brought an even tougher challenge for the Spartans as the No. 27 team faced off against No. 19 Skidmore. The ladies got off to a great start with the doubles portion of the day, taking two of the three matches. But the team hit a wall during singles as the Skidmore team took two early matches to bring the Spartans lead to only one match. It all came down to two three-set matches in the second and third courts with Sara Zargham and Sweeney trying to win a final match to clinch the win for the Spartans. Unfortunately, both ladies lost in their third sets; bringing Case their fifth loss.
Despite the late night on Saturday, the ladies were back on the courts at 8:00 a.m. to face off against the top-ranked Division III team in the country, Johns Hopkins University. Sweeney and Djohan brought home another doubles win to start the day, but the Spartans weren’t able to get much else going. The sole singles win came at the hands of Khadilkar with the rest of the ladies struggling against the tough Blue Jay squad. The Spartans lost 7-2.
Coach Kirsten Gambrell was happy with the weekend overall, but was disappointed that the team still hasn’t had their breakout win against one of these challenging opponents. “I think we gave it all we had,” said Gambrell. “We’re still beating all the teams we’re supposed to, we just haven’t been able to beat the teams that are ranked a little bit higher than us. It’s fine, but we’re still looking for that breakthrough win.”
The team is hoping to play outdoors later this week and are scheduled to face off against No. 9 Carnegie Mellon University and Ohio Wesleyan University outside on Case’s own Carlton Courts on the weekend of April 5. The team is hoping the home energy and more relaxed schedule will bring them their first win against a Top 10 opponent.