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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s tennis wraps up final homestand

Shirlene Luk ’15 and Clothilde Thirouin ’14, the only doubles winner in last week’s game, practice a rally. Photo by Shadman Asif.

The Grinnell women’s tennis team lost a close battle to Coe College 5-4 last Saturday, April 19. The loss against the 15th best team in the Central region pushed the Pioneers’ overall record to 15-7, 4-1 in MWC.

“It was a very competitive match,” said head coach Andy Hamilton ’85. “We approached it from the underdog standpoint, so we were able to play well under the circumstances.”

Grinnell, which holds the 19th place in the region, got off to a slow start as the team only picked up one victory in the doubles department. The duo of Shirlene Luk ’15 and Clothilde Thirouin ’14 won at the number one doubles position.

“I’m always interested in us winning two of the three doubles matches and we didn’t,” Hamilton said. “We led one match the entire way and didn’t win that at number two doubles.” 

Emma Macdonald ’14 admitted that she and her doubles partner, Sadhana Athreya ’14, also could have played better and swung the momentum to Grinnell’s side with their play.

“The transition period from doubles to singles could have been more focused,” Macdonald said. “Sadhana and I were the last doubles match on and we’re both captains, so we came off the court very flustered.  Both of us could have done a better job of refocusing our team and making sure we were really prepared to give it our all in singles.”

For Thirouin, however, she was able to continue her singles win as she won a grueling one, 7-5, 6-4. Athreya and Macdonald also scored victories in their respective singles matches.

“We were energetic,” Athreya said. “Our mental games were on and we were ready for the fight. Everyone fought really hard and gave it all out there.” 

Shirlene Luk ’15 and Clothilde Thirouin ’14, the only doubles winner in last week’s game, practice a rally. Photo by Shadman Asif.
Shirlene Luk ’15 and Clothilde Thirouin ’14, the only doubles winner in last week’s game, practice a rally. Photo by Shadman Asif.

Unfortunately, the Pioneers’ effort fell short and was unable to break a five-year losing streak to the Kohawks. 

Heading into last weekend’s game, Luk’s singles match was considered the main event of the weekend. Luk, ranked 24th in the region, faced off against Tai Lucero, 22nd in the region. Though Luk lost the battle 6-0, 6-3, the match was surely a competitive one.

“It was an anticipated match,” Athreya said. “[Lucero] is really solid. We all knew it was going to be a tough match and Shirlene [would have] had to play out of her mind to win it and she put up a great fight. But at the end of the game, Tai was just more match sharp.” 

The loss to Coe taught Grinnell to work more on fitness and stay motivated despite being down, according to Athreya.

“We all just need to focus on our personal fitness and be accountable for ourselves on that day for our own match because at the end of the day it’s an individual sport,” she said. “As a team, a lesson we can take is keep fighting, keep working hard and it’ll turn around.”

Last weekend’s game against Coe marked the home finale of the season, which also meant it was the last career home game for seniors. The team will certainly miss five seniors’ presence and leadership next year. 

“It was bittersweet,” Athreya said. “It was good in the sense that it was four years of tennis. It’s sad not to play another home game.”

The Pioneers will play yet another regionally-ranked opponent, Augustana College, on Saturday, April 26 at Rock Island, Ill. Ranked 16th in the region, Augustana will provide a formidable challenge to Grinnell. However, the Pioneers believe their matchup against Coe will better prepare them for the season finale. By pulling off an upset, Grinnell will hope to finish the season on a strong, positive note and continue its momentum to the next fall season. 

“We want to beat them so bad,” Macdonald said. “This weekend we’re hoping to have a stronger showing against them. We’re fired and ready to go. We want to win before Nationals.”

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