Author: Emily Daggett
In the midst of a competitive season Women’s Tennis is pushing to end the year with a strong finish. Friday and Saturday the team took on SCIAC teams Claremont-McKenna-Scripps (CMS) and La Verne. On Friday the Tigers fell 8-1 to CMS. Kelly Hasegawa (senior) upset CMS’s number one player Yassi Entekhabi. The victory is one of Hasegawa’s biggest career wins at Oxy and fittingly come near the end of her last season with the Tigers. On Saturday the team defeated La Verne 7-2. The Tigers posted many solid performances, especially Jennifer Wahba’s (sophomore) win over Alisa Nadjaryan in three sets. Though Wahba lost the first set 4-6, she came back with 6-0 and 6-1 sets to win. Oxy’s doubles teams swept La Verne as well.
The Tigers, who have one conference match- up remaining, hope to finish strong at the SCIAC Tournament April 20-21. They opened SCIAC play with a big win against Caltech 7-2. This win was followed by losses to Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer. The loss to Redlands was especially tough. Though the Tigers lost two close doubles matches, Taylor Kaplan (sophomore) and Wahba came away with a big win at 3rd doubles. Wahba had another win at singles and overpowered her opponent 6-4, 6-2. Redlands defeated Oxy 7-2, but the score fails to reflect how close the individual sets ended up.
“We walked away knowing that the match could have gone either way,” Head Coach Linda Park said.
After Redlands and Pomona, the Tigers faced the Whittier Poets and completely dominated them 9-0. In March, Oxy faced non-conference teams Chapman University, University of Mary Washington and Whitman College. The Tigers had a decisive win against Chapman where they swept doubles and had four singles wins by Hasegawa, Kaplan, Marissa Cassman (first-year) and Alayna Santos (sophomore). Though the Tigers fell to visiting Mary Washington of Virginia and Whitman of Washington, the matches gave the team valuable experience.
The 4-5 loss to Whitman was a competitive effort in which the team played very well.
“I believe our best match was against Whitman,” Hasegawa said. “Three out of our top six players were not able to play and we still had a close match.”
Though injuries and illness have hindered the team’s success this season, the Tigers refuse to let things fall apart. “We manage to hold each other together,” Santos said. “We assess our individual weaknesses and strengths, then work as a team to overcome our weaknesses and further strengthen each other.”
This mentality has helped each player reach a greater potential. “Everyone at some point has really had to step up and play at a higher level than they thought they could,” Kaplan said.
Coach Park has a deep sense of pride for every one of her players. She praises first-year players Cassman and Ali Horwitz for marked improvements in their consistency and overall games. Sophomores Santos, Wahba, Kaplan and Lisa Mori have each gained confidence in their ability to hit the ball. Lauren Harris (sophomore) has battled an injury for part of the season, but Park expects her to contribute significantly if she returns. Park praises senior captains Hasegawa and Amanda Iseri for their patience and looks forward to seeing them excel in the final matches of their college careers.
With less than a month remaining in the season, Park plans to focus on strengthening the doubles teams. “The women have been playing more aggressively in doubles and are closing in on the net,” Park said. “They are playing with more confidence.” This attitude of confidence reflects a deep respect the team members feel for one another. “Our team works well together,” Mori said. “I think that team cooperation and encouragement helps us through a lot of our conditioning practices and pushes us to work harder.”
The Tigers have at least three more competitions remaining in their season. They will take on Cal State L.A. April 13, Cal Lutheran April 14 and their regular season will conclude April 20-21 at the SCIAC Tournament. Park will take Hasegawa, Kaplan, Cassman, Wahba and Iseri to the prestigious Ojai-West Region Individual Tournament April 27 and 28.
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