The Case Western Reserve University women’s tennis team traveled to California over spring break for two matches against 21st-ranked University of Redlands and 17th-ranked Wesleyan University (Conn.). The Spartans came into the trip ranked 19th, the second-highest ranking in school history (previously ranked 12th), in the latest Oracle/ Intercollegiate Tennis Association NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis National poll, but dropped both matches on the trip.
Coach Kirsten Gambrell came away with several positives from the trip despite the losses.
“We were there five days and we had three really productive long practice days,” said Gambrell.
The first match against University of Redlands was closely matched but the Spartans fell 5-4. CWRU was able to get out to a quick lead winning two of the three doubles matches. The Spartans did lose the first doubles match in a hard fought match 8-6. Fourth-year Taylor Sweeney and second-year Nithya Kanagasegar were able to win their singles matches but the other four matches went to the Redlands as they were able to come back and win the match.
Gambrell was very pleased with the way the seniors stepped up and is hoping the freshmen and sophomores will play more complete matches while they gain experience.
“We were up three to one and on the last four courts we had three sophomores and a freshman,” said Gambrell, “but we were unable to close them out.”
The Spartans were in a tough position coming off their first loss of the season and less than a day to get ready for their next match. Early on, it was evident that this task proved too difficult. Wesleyan won all three doubles matches and used that momentum to win all but one of the singles matches.
The team returned back to campus hungry to get back to work and improve.
“We need to improve at handling pressure a little better, staying focused through the whole match,” said Gambrel. “We practice consistency rallying back and forth for about 45 minutes.”
CWRU will be back in action at the Blue Grey Invitational, hosted by the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Spartans will try and right the ship when open play at the event against Bates College this Friday.
Going into these matches Gambrell will be trying to relax her team and take some of the pressure off.
“I will remind girls why they are playing tennis,” said Gambrell, “that the reason they play is that they love the sport.”