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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s tennis awaits ranked opponents

Shirlene Luk ’15 strikes a volley in practice earlier this week. Photo by Jenny Dong.

The women’s tennis team is entering a slow patch of the spring season after a dominant win on Sunday, April 6 against St. Ambrose University. The Pioneers swept (9-0) in a match where no singles player or doubles team lost more than one set. The win puts the team at a record of 15-6.

The singles victors were Shirlene Luk ’15, Sadhana Athreya ’14, Clothilde Thirouin ’14, Virginia Purcell ’17, Hanna Feldman ’14 and Emma Macdonald ’14. The duos of Luk-Thirouin, Athereya-Macdonald, along with Feldman and Shanaz Daneshdoost ’17 claimed victories in doubles competition.

After capturing its fourth consecutive Midwest Conference title in the fall season, the women’s squad got back on track for the spring, beginning with its annual trip to Florida during spring break. There, the team faced some of the stiffest competitions of the season. In the five matches the team played, three of them were decided by only one set as the Pioneers finished the trip with a 3-2 record. Team leader Feldman remarked on the positive result of the trip.

“[We came in] out of shape and unused to the hot weather,” she said. “But we played well and came together as a team.”

After claiming a victory last Sunday, the team will remain idle until next week, before facing some of their most important adversaries of the spring season.

Shirlene Luk ’15 strikes a volley in practice earlier this week. Photo by Jenny Dong.
Shirlene Luk ’15 strikes a volley in practice earlier this week. Photo by Jenny Dong.

Grinnell will play Coe College on Saturday, April 19 and then face Augustana College on Saturday, April 26. The two opponents are ranked 15th and 17th in the region, respectively, while Grinnell sits at 19th.

The women’s team has Coe locked in their sight as the match has tremendous significance for the team. Purcell will especially look to revenge her loss to Laura Birky of Coe from the 2013 United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Championships.

“I am playing [Birky], who I lost to in the ITAs,” she said. “That’s the match of the spring season I need to focus on and get most psyched about.”

Feldman, who has experienced a long history of matches against Coe, also has vengeance in her mind.

“The past three years we’ve lost, [so] I’m determined to win this year,” she said. “Our play is there and it will be about grinding out the matches.”

As for Augustana, the Grinnell women fell to them 8-1 in one of their first matches of the fall season. The Pioneers hope to have an entirely different outcome this time around, after seven months of experience under their belt.

The team will then end its season with National Championships. Last semester, the team solidified its entrance to Nationals with yet another consecutive Midwest Conference championship. After the fall season, the first-years on the team have more experience, but are new to the biggest stage.

“Being a first-year, it is exciting to play at Nationals in Division III singles,” Purcell said.

Next year, the team will lose five seniors, many of whom play in the top of the lineup. The seniors have helped the newcomers to the team in their first year of college competition and will surely be missed.

“It’s been a good bonding experience and the fourth-years have supported us,” Purcell said.

Therefore, it will be crucial for the team’s underclassmen to gain experience at the national level to put the team in a winning position again next year.

The team has two confirmed recruits and several more yet to commit. But before getting ahead for the 2014-2015 season, the Pioneers will look to take care of business in the spring.

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