Women's tennis: NCAA runners-up return to court

Kristen Raverta ’06 called last season “a year of achievement, both as a team and for many of the individual players as well.”

Last fall, Amherst got off to a 4-0 start before falling in a close match to Williams College, to whom they placed second at the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament at the end of the fall season. Raverta won the number three singles flight and teamed with captain Wallis Molchen ’04 to win the third doubles as well.

In the spring the women won three of their four matches in California over spring break, and from then on became nearly unstoppable. The Jeffs returned to Massachusetts to breeze through three important upset victories. The women tied Williams at the NESCAC team championships, led by title-winners Raverta, Katie Hudson ’07 and the doubles team of Molchen and Raverta.

The women beat Williams just days later to prove that the tie was not a fluke. Amherst then defeated Middlebury College to win the Northeast Regionals and advance to Nationals, where the Jeffs bested Williams in the semifinals before falling to Emory University in the NCAA finals.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better first year on the team, which makes me so excited for this season,” said Hudson, who compiled an excellent rookie year.

The women are poised for another stellar season. The team graduated Molchen, who played in the NCAA Tournament all four years and earned both New England and NESCAC doubles titles in her senior year. Despite this loss, the women have four talented first-years joining the team: Monica Snyder, Alicia Menezes, Laura Stein and Jennifer Murphy.

A deep group of upperclassmen will lead the rookies. The team’s four seniors, Hedrick, Holt, Liz Libert and Erin Murphy, will be serving as quad-captains.

“The captains … have been the heart and soul of the team for the last three years and will provide great leadership this year,” said Raverta.

“We have four incredible senior captains, which will bring a uniquely positive dynamic to the team,” added Hudson. “They each have their strengths, and they’ve all been a part of a top national team more than once, so they know what it takes.”

Having four captains is a sharp departure from last year’s sole captaincy, a position filled by Molchen. Nevertheless, the seniors feel up to the task. “I am so excited to work with my other captains; we are very different, but very close, girls. Because of this, I think we will be able to lead our team well,” said Libert.

In addition to the seniors, the returning players include juniors Raverta, Hadley Miller, who played number four singles last year and paired with Murphy in doubles, and Miranda Kim. Sophomores Hudson, Caitlin Rhodes and Michelle Sanders round out the underclassmen.

Between the talented veterans and the enthusiastic newcomers, women’s tennis will be a viable force in both the league and the nation. “Just making the lineup this year is going to be tougher than ever,” said Libert.

Head coach Jackie Bagwell will be joined by new assistant coach Anna Sloan, a former player at Brown University.

The shorter fall season includes four dual matches, including one at home against Williams on Oct. 9. Additionally, the Omni ITA, an individual tournament which includes one singles and one doubles championship, will be held in Williamstown the weekend of Sept. 24.

The autumn culminates in the New England Championship, hosted by Amherst Oct. 15-17. There are six singles titles, three doubles titles and one team title to be earned at New Englands. The big prizes, however, take place in the spring: the NESCAC and NCAA championships.

“Number two was fantastic last year, and we’re only getting better,” said Hudson.