Women’s tennis wins out in first weekend

Katie Wieser, Sports Editor

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The women’s tennis team is off to a quick start as their spring season went underway last weekend. The ladies made a strong showing in doubles play during the double-header tournament versus Oberlin College and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The Case Western Reserve University ladies were up against tough competition in the morning, facing the Division II opposition from Indiana University. The competition was set up to tally wins and losses from each team over the course of six singles matches and three doubles matches. The six Spartans all had to do their share to carry the team’s score over IUP. The teams of Surya Khaldikar and Sarah Berchuck beat out their opponent 8-6 and the team of Michelle Djohan and Taylor Sweeney won by the same score in their match against IUP’s team.

The singles play wasn’t quite as decisive with both teams putting up winning scores. Djohan and Khalikar had put away their matches, but the team needed one more win to pull ahead of the Crimson Hawks. It all came down to one last tiebreaker between Freshman Berchuck and Alanna McFail of IUP. The Spartans carried the day with Berchuck’s marathon 10-8 win over her opponent.

The team was looking for another win versus Oberlin College in the afternoon. The thrilling finish to the morning matches definitely contributed to the team’s energy as they were able to beat the Yeowomen 6-3. The team won two doubles matches again which, combined with singles wins by Djohan, Sweeney, Khadilkar and Lauren Rovner, put the Spartans at 2-0 for their opening weekend of the spring season.

The team was very happy with the strong start against the tough competition. Khaldikar, a sophomore, is excited for the potential success this season that was foreshadowed in this early win, “I liked the energy we brought, especially because it was the season opener and a double-header. We clinched the first match against a good DII school, so I’m looking forward to good matches this season.”

Head coach Kirsten Gambrell echoed these sentiments. “It was a big confidence booster to take two of those doubles matches against both schools. The strength of the weekend was definitely in our doubles play.”
As a freshman, Berchuck is still getting used to the level of play among the DII and DIII schools. She was the hero of the match, winning a long tie-breaker which left her on the court for almost seven hours. Getting the first spring match out of the way will help her and the other young players to gain valuable perspective. “During the first match, I didn’t really know what to expect. I gained a lot of experience which will help moving forward to the next match,” said Berchuck.

The team has focused a lot on raising their level of doubles play during the season hiatus. Freshman Kennedy Mulholland has also noticed the improvement in their level of play, “Doubles was a lot better than in the fall, we’re getting more competitive.” Gambrell has been emphasizing this type of play in their training as well as building the team’s fitness, a component of playing that was critical during the long day last weekend and will prove to be beneficial as the ladies face off against tough competition on their way to conference championships in April.

The women will continue this journey next weekend against Kenyon College.