The Lord Jeffs started out strong in Friday’s victory over the 15th-ranked Brewers. Amherst was able to enter the match with confidence, as they had defeated Vassar earlier in the season by a comfortable 6-3 margin. They were able to duplicate the victory and the score with a number of strong individual performances.
First and second seeds Ashley Harmeling ’05 and senior co-captain Susanna Burke won their matches in three games apiece, with Burke yielding only one point to her opponent. Harmeling and Burke were the only Amherst players to record victories in all three matches over the course of the weekend. Liz Martin ’04, Ali Gibbs ’05, Emily Stark ’04 and Melanie Zacher ’03 also won their matches in the fourth through seventh spots respectively.
Martin and Gibbs dominated their opponents, winning in three games each. Martin gave up only one point en route to a resounding 9-1, 9-0, 9-0 win. Stark and Zacher managed tougher victories; each dropped her first game before winning three straight ones to come out on top.
However, Friday’s success did not translate to Saturday’s semifinal match-up against a strong Bates squad. On Jan. 12, the then-11th-ranked Lord Jeffs defeated the then-10th-ranked Bobcats by a score of 5-4. This time around, however, rankings were reversed, as was the result, as Amherst lost 6-3.
Despite dominating victories in the top three spots by Harmeling, Burke and senior co-captain Roopali Agarwal, who each won in three games, the lower part of the line-up was unable to shake Bates players looking for revenge. Gibbs held out for five long games before losing by a score of 10-8, 1-9, 6-9, 10-8, 9-7. Becca Muse-Orlinoff ’03 also played well in the defeat, losing in four games, 6-9, 9-5, 9-5, 9-0.
“Bates was very fired up,” said Harmeling, who attributed the loss to possible “lack of confidence” rather than any physical edge that the Bobcats might have had. Bates went on to lose to fellow NESCAC rival and neighbor Bowdoin College in the finals.
On Sunday, Amherst saw another team they had beaten earlier in the season as they faced Colby in the 11th place playoff match. Once again, the Lord Jeffs were unable to recapture January’s success as they fell to the White Mules, 6-3.
Harmeling and Burke led the way for the third consecutive match with victories in the top two spots. Harmeling dropped one game, but still came away with the win, 9-6, 9-4, 5-9, 9-7. Burke stayed perfect with a 9-1, 9-5, 9-2 victory. Martin also recorded her second victory of the weekend in the four spot with a three-game sweep.
Despite her personal success and that of Burke in the top seeds, Harmeling chose to highlight the performances of Zacher and Muse-Orniloff. “Mel and Becca, two seniors, played really well,” she said. “They played their hearts out. They kept on trying, it was awesome, it was a great model.”
On Feb. 28, Amherst travels to Trinity College, the Howe Cup “A” Division champions, for the WISA Singles Championship. Despite this weekend’s disappointment, the women still look for individual successes to close out a solid 13-11 season.
“I think we’re going to do well,” said Harmeling. “We’re improving still.” With two weeks of intense drilling planned, look for the Jeffs to bounce back for the final weekend of the season.