Sports

Women’s tennis defeats UMass-Amherst 5-2 at home

Victory boosts confidence, team morale in preparation for ECAC tournament

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, February 4, 2018

Brown powered to victory against UMass-Amherst to place the team in prime position going into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship next weekend. The victory was highlighted by a clutch performance by Maddie Stearns ’18.

Tensions mounted Friday as the women’s tennis team persevered through multiple tie-breaks and close doubles matches to defeat the University of Massachusetts at Amherst 5-2. The competition brought a familiar face — the current UMass (2-2) head coach Juancarlos “JC” Nunez, a former Brown assistant — back to the Pizzitola Center courts.

Bruno (2-2) kept its cool and came away with the victory.

“During practice we really focused on preparing intensely, really making sure that we were ready to compete hard and leave all of the emotional components to the side,” said Juliana Simon ’20.

The Bears demonstrated that laser focus during the opening matches as second and third doubles came from behind to put Brown up 1-0. After Head Coach Paul Wardlaw made changes to the lineup last week, Alyza Benotto ’18 and Semi Oloko ’21 worked together to pull off a 6-4 win while Maddie Stearns ’18 and Taylor Cosme ’19 claimed the doubles point with a 6-4 victory.

“Everyone was super positive,” Cosme said. “In the doubles play, the energy was amazing because we knew we could win the doubles point. That really set a precedent for how everyone was going to play singles.”

Bruno carried that optimistic energy into its individual matches. Cosme put the Bears up 2-0 after a 6-3, 6-2 win in fourth singles, but the Minutewomen notched a victory in second singles to cut Brown’s advantage to one point.

A clutch 7-5, 6-2 victory by Stearns in first singles swung the momentum back in Bruno’s favor as Simon then clinched the overall match with a fifth singles win, and Courtney Kowalsky ’21 added another point by downing her opponent in the sixth spot to hit the 5-2 final score.

“Our engagement as a team has really improved,” Simon said. “Everyone on the team is super engaged and cheering for all the matches, which really translates onto the court. Once everyone is riled up, it really makes a huge difference for team morale and how we compete in general.”

The victory over the Minutewomen puts the Bears in prime position as they prepare for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship Feb. 9.

“It was a good match for us at the start of our season to prepare us for what’s to come, especially since we have the ECAC tournament coming up next weekend,” Simon said.

Cosme credited the team’s success and effective preparation to Wardlaw and the addition of first-year assistant coach Lucie Schmidhauser. After the ECAC tournament, the Bears will turn their attention to Ivy League opponents.

“All across the board, we’re consistently just playing smarter points and really competing well,” Simon said. “We’ve done a good job of raising our intensity, focusing from point to point and really fighting for every point.”