Six select members of the tennis team competed against other top Div. III players in the region this weekend at the 2014 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Championships in Geneva, New York.
The Hawks yielded the event with two wins overall– one from singles competition and the other in doubles. With conference play approaching in two weeks, the team is striving to complete the end of their regular season strong and sweep SUNYAC matches all the way through finals.
In the first round of the tournament’s singles play, first-year singles player Brittany Grandville nearly shut out her Scranton University opponent fourth-year Megan Azzalia, 6-0, 6-2, notching the first and only singles win of the weekend. In the second round, Grandville lost to third-year Marylyn Santos of SUNY Geneseo, 6-0, 6-3.
Second-year singles player Veronika Paikin fell to her Vassar College matchup in the first round of play 6-2, 6-1. Second-year singles player Olivia Ammirati dropped the match to her opponent, University of Rochester’s third-year Christine Ho, in the first round as well, 6-3, 6-4.
Grandville and her doubles partner, first-year Carol Tyson, opened up their first round of doubles play with a 8-3 win over Alvernia University partners third-year Alyssa Boyd and fourth-year Julie Siedel. During their second round, the duo slipped 8-1 to St. Lawrence University partners, fourth-year Elkie Vandenbeemt and first-year Emily Wyman.
Fourth-year co-captains and doubles partners Jessica Schmidt and Devin Tracy lost against their New York University opponents, tallying a close 8-6 loss for New Paltz.
Head Coach Rob Bruley said he was happy with the two doubles teams that made the tournament, as it was host to some of the best Div. III collegiate players in the region.
In particular, he said was proud of the strong execution that first-year doubles duo Grandville and Tyson displayed in their match together this weekend. This pair has only served as singles players during their high school careers, Bruley said, and they are learning more and working harder with every doubles match that they play.
“This team has a tremendous amount of potential and I’m very excited to watch them improve over the coming years,” he said. “This is a very young team with [five underclassmen] starting in high positions. Our freshmen have been learning with each and every game and the team is putting every effort into our practice sessions [and are] keeping a very high work ethic.”
Not one match was given up without a fight this weekend, said Grandville, and that was “clearly seen” through the number one doubles team of Schmidt and Tracy.
“Entering the ITA tournament was an honor for our team this past weekend,” Grandville said. “We walked into the tournament knowing we had to give it our all, considering the competition is extremely tough. Though it was only six of us competing, I feel like we really represented the team well through the wins and losses of the weekend.”
Schmidt credited this tournament as great preparation for the team’s upcoming matches, being that the players that came from each team are considered to be the best of the region.
“The level of play that we see there and play against is great,” Schmidt said. “It pushes us to perform at a high level and prepares us for tough matches ahead. Even though we were not as successful as we had hoped to be, we still played strong and fought hard.”
Though they are at different parts of their collegiate tennis careers, Schmidt, who is about to finish her last season with the Hawks, and Grandville, who is about to complete her first, both agree that ultimately winning SUNYAC would be an amazing accomplishment for their team.
“My goals for myself are to win the important matches, like at SUNYACs, to help my team potentially win the championship,” Schmidt said. “We have a good chance this year as long as we can start off strong in the doubles and continue strong in the singles. We came close every year that I have been on the team but fall just short of winning, so it would be nice to finally get that win.”
Though she has not been on the team for as long as Schmidt, Grandville recognizes the test that finals will be if they face Geneseo.
“Our team goal is to finally win SUNYACs and beat Geneseo, as they are our toughest SUNY opponent,” Grandville said.
The team has qualified for the past 12 SUNYAC finals. Their most recent finals win was in 2010. For the past three years, the team has placed second in the conference finals, falling to Geneseo each time.
Looking forward, Bruley said the team’s conference matchup with Geneseo will be a challenging determiner if they both make it to finals again this year as they have proven to be the team’s most difficult conference opponent to date.
“We match up very well with Geneseo and assuming that we both get to the finals, I’m very confident that our preparation, team effort and desire to win will not be lacking,” he said.
The singles lineup has been extremely strong so far, averaging in with an overall season record of 44-13, he said. With the team’s final non-conference match approaching this weekend, Bruley said he hopes that the doubles players (20-14) will set the team to its highest potential and really bring out their individual strengths on the court.
The Hawks complete their non-conference play at Mount Saint Mary College this Friday, Oct. 3 at 5:30 p.m. They then take to the road to begin conference play Oct. 10 in Binghamton, New York where they will face SUNY Fredonia in the SUNYAC quarterfinals.