Women's tennis looks to generate excitement
In the fall of 2002, Amherst won the team portion of the New England Championships. Individual champions included Kristen Raverta ’06 at first singles, Tristan Hedrick ’05 and Rachel Holt ’05 at first doubles, co-captain Paige Lawrence ’03 and Raverta at second doubles and Wallis Molchen ’04 and Erin Murphy ’05 at third doubles.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would finish fourth in the nation I would probably have laughed. I had no idea how much the team had improved over the summer and how much they would improve during the year,” Bagwell said.
In the spring, the squad went to their fifth NCAA Final Four in the last six years. Raverta, Hedrick and Holt all qualified for the National singles tournament, and the team of Hedrick and Holt qualified for doubles.
Hedrick was named an All-American for doubles, Raverta for singles and Holt for both doubles and singles. Hedrick and Raverta were named First-Team All-NESCAC, each for singles. Co-captain Roopali Agarwal ’03, Molchen, Hedrick, Murphy and Hadley Miller ’06 were chosen as Second-Team All-NESCAC for doubles, while Holt was named to the second team for both singles and doubles.
Bagwell praised her players for showing great improvement, “This 2002-03 team has been the first since the  team that won nationals with the desire to improve and become the best team possible.” She continued, “I guess I enjoyed them so much because they were all such complete strivers really willing to put in the extra work as a team to do well. I am really looking forward to working with them again.”
The team lost Agarwal to graduation. “I cannot say enough about Roopali over her four years at Amherst,” Bagwell said. “She was such a team player.”
The women are preparing for another successful year. “I think next year is looking to be even more promising,” said Raverta. “We have all worked and trained hard over the summer and are definitely ready for the fall season.”
“Our team has huge potential,” said Elizabeth Libert ’05.
“Really, this is a team that needs everyone to contribute and continue to improve,” said Bagwell. “We have a freshman from California, Katie Hudson, who we are hoping to hear a lot from,” she added. “She will have her hands full working to replace Roopali.” The team is looking for more success from all players, led by Molchen, their new captain and only senior, who won all her matches at team nationals last spring.
The junior class should be strong as well. Murphy is “one of the most talented and greatest motivators on the team,” according to Bagwell. Hedrick, won all her singles matches at team nationals. Holt had impressive individual success, and Libert, an enthusiastic walk-on who is “actually a big part of the team,” according to her coach.
There are also three returning sophomores. Raverta played in the number one singles spot last spring. “[Miller] worked incredibly hard through the fall and winter … with lots of success,” said Bagwell. Miranda Kim ’06 has, according to Raverta, “a vibrant personality and adds levity to what can be a long and grueling season.” Bagwell expects Kim to continue the great improvement she showed last year and become a serious contributor in the coming year.
Williams College, which defeated Amherst in the battle for third at nationals, will be a strong competitor again this year. “This season should be interesting,” said Bagwell. “It seems a lot of NESCAC schools are getting three to four good recruits a year and we are certainly relying on individual improvement to keep up with them.” Tufts University, Bowdoin College and Middlebury College are likely to be tough competition as well.
The Jeffs host a three-match weekend on Oct. 4-5, against the Maine colleges Colby, Bowdoin and Bates. Oct. 17-19 is the New England Championships, held at Amherst.
“I really think more people should come to the matches this year,” said Libert. “We are one of the strongest teams of our school and our matches are quite animated.” According to Libert, each player has a different style: Holt is a “character,” Murphy “builds up long, intense points,” and Raverta and Hedrick hit lots of winners. While the women’s tennis team won’t truly be tested until the spring, the fall months should give the players ample time to get their games ready for the tough NESCAC competition that awaits them.