Yesterday, Amherst won a crucial match, besting Tufts by a score of 7-2 despite being forced indoors due to inclement weather. The Jeffs’ record now stands at 12-3.
Tufts is currently ranked third nationally and first in the Northeast region, considerably better than Amherst’s 11th national and fourth regional rankings. Last year, however, Amherst defeated Tufts 6-3, and this time around also favored the Jeffs.
One of the highlights of the match against Emory came from Kristen Raverta ’06. Raverta downed Emory’s Jolyn Taylor, who was ranked number two nationally in the fall.
The Jeffs knew they had a tough match ahead as Amherst prepared to face the 15-1 Eagles. The Eagles were victorious, as anticipated, but the Jeffs certainly held their own in a number of close matches.
Raverta earned Amherst’s sole point by winning a close number-two singles match over Taylor, 7-6, 7-5.
Tristan Hedrick ’05 almost drew her first-singles match into a third set, losing 6-0, 7-5. Hadley Miller ’06 and Erin Murphy ’05 nearly eked out a win at the third doubles spot, with a close 6-8 loss.
“Emory is a very tough team but we put up a really good fight. We performed really well as a team. It wasn’t like we were blown away,” said Murphy. “I think that speaks to the level of play we’ve achieved so far, to give them a tough match. It’s also really good to see that kind of competition now. If we make nationals, we’ll play them again.”
“Emory is the only match all year we go into with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was not a huge high-pressure situation. The match against Middlebury was much more important,” said Miller, because regional opponents count more in terms of the NCAA tournament.
The following day, the Jeffs traveled to Vermont for what turned out to be a long and hard day of tennis.
Middlebury is ranked number six nationally and number two regionally, so the matchup was crucial to Amherst’s NCAA Tournament aspirations. In a series of very close matches, the Jeffs defeated the 14-2 Panthers.
“We needed to win against Middlebury,” Miller said. “We need to beat Tufts, and we need to beat Williams. Middlebury beat Williams earlier in the year so that’s good for us.”
Hedrick lost her first set at the number-one singles position, but rebounded to convincingly win the next two sets, for a final score of 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Number-two Raverta had a similar result, winning 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, as she battled back from a one-set deficit. Rachel Holt ’05 likewise won at third singles, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, also coming back from a first-set loss. Katie Hudson ’07 won Amherst’s only straight-set singles victory. Although she only took two sets to win, the match was close at 7-5, 6-4.
Miller tried to come back from her first set, but was unsuccessful as Middlebury’s Lauren Ready defeated her in three sets, 5-7, 6-3, 2-6. Captain Wallis Molchen ’04 was also defeated in straight sets, 3-6, 4-6.
Holt and Hedrick were victorious, 8-3, at number one doubles. Meanwhile, Raverta and Molchen fell in a close 7-9 decision at second doubles.
Miller and Murphy were also defeated, 4-8, in third doubles.
“It was a really good team victory,” Miller said. “We really came together as a team.”
“In general I think this weekend was a really great example of how we worked as a team,” said Murphy. Of course everyone had to win individually to get the points, but pulling together as a team was what made the difference.”
The women now look to this weekend’s NESCAC Champion-ships. Though a team winner is determined, the NESCACs are most important for their effects on individual rankings.
Amherst will host the tournament Friday through Sunday. The Jeffs will then look toward their home match against Williams the following weekend. A victory at Williams is another key to reaching NCAAs.
“I think we have more to achieve,” Murphy concluded.