W. tennis has sweep success

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

After dominating two non-conference opponents this weekend, the women’s tennis team is looking ahead to starting Ivy play later this month. Brown (7-4) cruised to victories over Massachusetts (4-7) and West Virginia (6-4).

On Friday, Bruno wasted little time taking five of six singles points against the Minutewomen, after gaining the doubles point with two out of three doubles victories. They won 6-1 overall.

Bianca Aboubakare ’11 showcased her game for her family on Friday by beating Massachusetts’ Masha Pozar 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. In attendance were her mother and two younger sisters, including Carissa Aboubakare ’12, who will be joining her sister on the team next year. Though Bianca Aboubakare started off slowly in the first set, she said she buckled down in the second.

“I was more aggressive mentally and physically,” she said. “I was looking to set up the point and get on top.”

Assistant Coach Cecily Dubusker noted Aboubakare’s strength in the later part of her matches.

“Bianca’s definitely a second-set player.” Dubusker said. The coach then paused and elaborated: “Bianca’s just tough to beat, just flat out.”

No. 2 Sara Mansur ’09 recorded the team’s lone loss against the Minutewomen’s Candynce Boney, 6-3, 7-5. She said the match came down to a few close points.

“She played well at really tight points,” Mansur said of her opponent. “I just missed some shots I shouldn’t have missed.”

Despite starting off slow in both sets, Brett Finkelstein ’09 put up a solid victory at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-2.

The most lopsided Bear victory of the day came from No. 4 Tanja Vucetic ’10, who won 6-1, 6-1. Once the games hit deuce, Vucetic was able to make adjustments that she might not have made earlier in the year, she said.

“I’ve gotten mentally stronger,” Vucetic explained.

Dubusker said she was impressed with Vucetic’s fifth straight win.

“Tanja’s hill to climb has been consistency, and she’s really been getting that lately,” Dubusker said.

At No. 5 singles, Marisa Schonfeld ’11 captured a 6-2, 6-2 victory, followed by Ashley Butler ’11 at No. 6, who won 7-6 (2), 6-0.

According to Massachusetts’ Web site, Brown is now 15-0 against the Minutewomen since they started playing each other in 1980.

The Bears captured their sixth victory in a row two days later against the Mountaineers, 7-0. They again won the doubles point with two out of three wins, but this time they went on to sweep the singles matches.

After winning the first set 6-1, Aboubakare started off the second set down 3-0. But she took advantage of her opponent’s aggressiveness after that to win the set 6-4.

“As I put more pressure on her, she started to make more errors,” Aboubakare said. “I just tried to be more consistent with placing the ball in the corner.”

Aboubakare became noticeably more vocal in the second set. But unlike some players, she reacts loudly (“Come on!”) when she wins a point, not when she loses one.

“It’s really important to keep a positive atmosphere,” Aboubakare said. “When you pump yourself up, it really affects you physically.”

Mansur bounced back from her loss Friday to win a tough three-set match against West Virginia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. She said she did a better job Sunday capitalizing on big points.

“I stayed pretty consistent,” Mansur said. “In the third set, I just played a lot more relaxed.”

Dubusker and Head Coach Paul Wardlaw both said that Mansur has been playing very competitively with some tough opponents.

Just like her match on Friday, Finkelstein started both sets slowly, only to win 6-3, 6-2 both times. She was able to win many crucial points during some of Sunday’s long rallies.

“I just stayed disciplined,” Finkelstein said. “I let her make all the mistakes.”

She didn’t deny that her recent victories have had a pattern.

“I like playing when I’m down,” she acknowledged.

Vucetic and Schonfeld also racked up sound defeats. Vucetic won 6-3, 6-0, and Schonfeld posted a 6-0, 6-1 victory.

There was drama once again for Butler, but she pulled out a tough win. Down 6-5 in the first set, Butler and her opponent engaged in eight deuces before Butler captured the game, escaping four set points. But she dropped the tiebreaker 7-5 to lose the set.

She came back with a 6-2 second-set win, forcing a 10-point tiebreaker to decide the match since the team competition had already been decided.

Butler, the Lazarus of the team Sunday, won 11-9, but not without excitement. She was down 9-5 and fended off four match points before capturing the victory.

She joked about some of her long sets during the weekend.

“Maybe I just like playing tennis so much, I just like staying out there as long as I can,” she said.

Wardlaw and Dubusker were happy with the resounding victories over teams they beat only 5-2 last year.

“I think with singles, we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Wardlaw said. “We’re actually being very patient and working the point.”

The Bears have just two more competitions before league play begins on March 30. Both coaches said that the team needs to improve its doubles game by then.

“There’s no such thing as resting on our laurels right now,” Dubusker said.