Columbia University and Pomona, Pitzer and Claremont Colleges were all spared the chance to compete against the second-ranked Jeffs. Thus, the only tangible result that Head Coach Jackie Bagwell and her team have to show for their California adventure is a 6-1 loss at the hands of California State Fullerton, a solid Div. I team.
While the loss was certainly disappointing, it is mitigated by the fact that besides playing out of their division against the Titans, the Jeffs were also making the difficult transition from playing indoors to playing outside.
“Playing in the Cage is like playing a different sport,” said Katie Hudson ’07, the lone Jeff to earn a singles victory on the West Coast. “The biggest difference is the surface, but the wind, sun and heat all make a difference, too. I think we definitely go into any match against a West Coast team in the winter with a significant disadvantage.”
Hudson’s victory came at the fifth singles position against Titan Nicole Arias, a talented player who struggled to keep a positive demeanor on court. Hudson took full advantage of her opponent’s uneven play and was able to secure a tough 6-4, 6-4 win.
“I played very well in my Cal. State match,” said Hudson. “I didn’t go for too much, and I didn’t get nervous. [Arias’] style was much more flashy than mine, and I think my consistency really frustrated her.”
Junior Kristen Raverta nearly joined Hudson in the win column, but couldn’t quite pull out a victory in her match at the third singles slot. After rallying to win the second set following a first set tiebreaker, Raverta played her opponent, Carla Rocha, in a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the match. Unfortunately, Raverta ultimately found herself on the wrong end of a thrilling 7-6, 5-7, (11-9) match.
Raverta and Hudson were the only two players to take a set from the Titans.
All in all, the team was satisfied with the California trip. “The break was definitely a positive experience despite the rain,” said Hudson. “Even though we only played one full match and two half matches, we got to practice outdoors much more than we’ve been practicing here. And, of course, it is always a bonding experience for us.”
Another positive development over the break was the improvement shown by Alicia Menezes ’08. Menezes, who suffered an ACL injury at the end of a spectacular fall campaign, traveled with the team and was able to participate in many drills in practice. While the star rookie is still likely several weeks away from competing in matches, the team is hopeful that she will be ready for Nationals in May.
The Jeffs will return to action on March 31 as they host the Camels of Connecticut College.