Women’s tennis beats UMass
By Henry Arndt, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Dartmouth women’s tennis team extended its winning streak to four with a forceful 6-1 win over the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on Wednesday night.
This was the first match for the women in over two weeks, as the ECAC tournament scheduled for Feb. 8 was canceled due to the snowstorm.
“It was tough not having those matches,” Janet Liu ’15 said. “People weren’t totally on today just because we hadn’t played a match in a while, but we handled it well.”
After starting off its season with a loss, the Big Green (4-1, 0-0 Ivy) has bounced back, winning four matches straight while dropping only three points in the process.
“We’ve won the last four in a row, which is always nice,” head coach Robert Dallis said. “Tonight, winning was a good result. UMass always plays very hard, is well coached and is very disciplined.”
UMass took the doubles point, but that was its only consolation as the Big Green won every singles match.
“I think we didn’t serve or return particularly well in the matches we lost,” Dallis said. “That’s always a point of emphasis for us as a team because doubles starts with serves and returns. Today it wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”
After starting on serve, the No. 1 doubles team of Liu and Christina Danosi ’13 fell behind at 3-4 and were unable to fight their way back into the match, giving UMass the first doubles win of the day, 8-3.
“We started out a little bit slow,” Liu said. “We were just not totally sharp and not making the balls we needed to make.”
The No. 3 doubles team of Melissa Matsuoka ’14 and Sarah Bessen ’16 was dominant, sealing an 8-2 win shortly after the No. 1 team fell. All attention turned toward No. 2 doubles to see which team would come out with the point.
After falling two breaks behind at 6-3, the No. 2 doubles team of Katherine Yau ’16 and Akiko Okuda ’15 made a charge. They broke once to get it to 4-6 and Okuda consolidated the break with strong serving before the changeover.
“We weren’t playing well, and we were just kind of trying to stay in the match,” Okuda said. “We tried to extend points, so we could stay in their longer and try and support our team.”
Leading 6-5 with the ability to ride the serve to a win, the UMass women started to tense up. A UMass double fault at 15-30 gave the Big Green three break points, but it only needed one as Okuda slammed a volley into the feet of her opponent.
Riding momentum, Yau stepped up to serve. Under pressure, Yau double-faulted on break point at six, all to give the UMass women another chance. They did not falter this time, and claimed the match and the doubles point in the process.
The Big Green entered the singles matches needing four victories to win.
At number one, Liu controlled play with her crafty shot selection and low slice shots. She moved the ball around and resorted to the drop shot in order to stretch out her opponent, whose reach was limited by her two-handed forehand.
“She’s a good player, but I didn’t make as many balls as I would have liked tonight,” Liu said.
Okuda fell to 4-1 in the first set against the UMass No. 2 player. She was able to bring it back to 5-4 before conceding the set.
“I just started hitting my shots and being more aggressive,” Okuda said. “Even though I lost the first set, I started to hit my balls toward the end and that kept me going for the next two sets.”
After collecting herself, Okuda dominated play in the second and the third, winning 4-6, 6-1 and 6-3.
Yau’s match at the No. 3 singles was close the entire time. Although she was the better ball striker on the court, Yau’s forehand left her with little margin for error. Whenever it got tight at the end of sets, Yau seemed to find her range, winning a tight match 7-5, 7-5.
There was a lot of drama in the No. 4 singles match, as Matsuoka struggled to figure out her opponent’s game. Matsuoka went down 4-1 in the first set, as her opponent was able to control the game in baseline slug fests.
Matsuoka changed her strategy, using high balls with more topspin to target her opponent’s one-handed backhand in order to give her the edge on the baseline. Matsuoka went on to win 6-4, 2-6 and 11-9 in the third set tiebreaker. They only played one game in the deciding set for the sake of time.
At the No. 5 and 6 singles respectively, Suzy Tan ’16 and Bessen dominated their opponents. Both Big Green women overpowered their UMass competitors with strong baseline play. Tan won 6-1, 6-4, and Bessen finished 6-1, 6-1.
The women will look to protect their win streak as they face off against Fordham University and the University at Albany at home this weekend.