Women’s tennis wins Midwest Conference title

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The 2016-17 women’s tennis team celebrate their conference victory. Photo contributed.

By Zane Silk

silkzane@grinnell.edu

The College women’s team ended the fall season at the Midwest Conference (MWC) singles and doubles tournament in Madison Wisc. on Oct. 15 and 16, claiming the championship trophy along with two singles titles and one doubles title. On top of this success, Coach Paige Madara was named the MWC Coach of the Year at the tournament.

The MWC championship title is awarded to the team that wins the most matches against the other teams in the conference. Since the tournament occurred after the end of the conference season, the team knew they had already won the championship trophy. However, rather than compete as a team, players had their first chance of the year to compete for singles and doubles titles.

In the doubles tournament, Amelia Cogan ’19 and Judith Fan ’19 won the No. 1 title, successfully defending the crown they won last year. However, Cogan and Fan were unable to clinch the victory in the singles tournament, with both players getting runner-up finishes: Fan in first and Cogan and in second. Anushka Joshi ’18 also earned a runner up finish in the match for the fourth title.

“I think this season, I probably played a little bit better during the dual games,” Fan said, who had been undefeated all season until the final match for the number one title. “Overall the season was good, but I think I sort of tanked at the end.”

“There’s a little bit of pressure riding on you to take first place if you’ve gone undefeated,” Cogan said, who similarly had her first loss of the season in match for the second place singles title.

Nonetheless, the singles tournament did provide two victories for the team, with Megan Jans ’19 winning the third place title and Lily Hamilton ’19 nabbing the fifth place title. According to Madara, Jans was one of the students who improved the most over the season through hard work.

The 2016-17 women's tennis team celebrate their conference victory. Photo contributed.
The 2016-17 women’s tennis team celebrate their conference victory. Photo contributed.

Madara is in her first year as a coach at Grinnell, and she says the move from Washington and Lee University in Virginia has gone well.

“[The players have] really been incredible in helping me transition, in that they’re so open to my style of coaching, and they want to improve, which is really all that I can ask for. Every day they go out, they work hard,” Madara said.

Looking back at the season, Madara is quick to identify her favorite moment.

“It [was] a really tough match to win the conference title against St. Norbert, that we won 5-4 thanks to a third set win by [Judith] Fan. … That was a special moment for me as a coach, [Fan] has come a long way since August, and our player-coach relationship has really developed each match. And so that was an exciting one for me, … just to watch her be so successful and beat a player she had never beaten before.”

Only Grinnell ended the season with zero losses among the participating schools. In winning the trophy, the women’s tennis team achieved a feat they had just narrowly missed the past two years.

Playing tennis as a team can be adjustment for students when arriving at Grinnell, since in high school tennis is much more of an individually focused sport. Building team spirit is something both players and the coach cited as integral to the team’s success.

“We definitely have a group this year that wanted to become a team, wanted to come together, and we spent a lot of time talking about our team culture and how we support each other on and off the court. Which, I really think at the end of the season helped us, when it’s coming down to the last match and you know your teammates are behind you, it kind of gives you that extra push to succeed,” Madara said.

With the fall season behind them, the team will now look forward to the spring when they will face off against the other top teams in the Midwest Conference in a chance to compete at the national level.