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Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Women’s Tennis Crushes Weekend, Beats No.1 Emory

<span class="photocreditinline"><a href="">Benjy Renton</a></span><br />Maddi Stow ’20 rushes to hit the ball during the weekend match against No. 6 Wesleyan.
Benjy Renton
Maddi Stow ’20 rushes to hit the ball during the weekend match against No. 6 Wesleyan.

The Middlebury women’s tennis team wrapped up one of the most monumental weekends in Panther history on Sunday, knocking off top ranked Emory (6-3) to hand them their first loss of the season. The Panthers also edged sixth ranked Wesleyan (5-4) on Saturday to boot, taking over their hold on the No. 5 national ranking, and cruised past Connecticut College 9-0 on Sunday to top off an impressive trio of victories.

Play began on Saturday inside the Nelson Recreation Center, where the Panthers grabbed two doubles points and three singles points during their match against Wesleyan. At the No. 2 doubles position, the junior duo of Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger secured an 8-2 victory over Venia Yeung and Polina Kiseleva, while the top squad of Heather Boehm ’20 and Ann Martin Skelly ’21 posted an 8-2 victory against Victoria Yu and Kristina Yu.

 “At number one doubles, Skelly and I were pretty nervous,” Boehm said. “We are usually a No. 3 or No. 2 doubles team, and this was completely unexpected for us. But we really capitalized on the opportunity, executed all of our plays that we have been working on for the past few months and saw some huge success.” Boehm also noted that “the brutal morning work outs” seemed to pay off on the courts this weekend, as the team was fitter than ever.

 During singles play, Boehm eased past Victoria Yu 6-2,6-0, while senior Christina Puccinelli triumphed over Kristina Yu 7-6(5), 6-3 at the third spot. At the fifth spot, Maddi Stow ’20 secured the team’s 4-3 lead with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alissa Nakamoto.

  “We have a saying that ‘we want to win with all 13 of us (including our coaches),’ and we did that in all three of our matches this weekend,” Boehm added. “Whether players were on court or cheering from the sidelines, every single member contributed to our wins over top teams in the country.”

 On Sunday against Emory, during what was arguably MWT’s “biggest win ever,” according to Boehm, the Panthers took all three points during doubles play. At the No. 2 spot, Hughes and Schossberger continued their winning streak as they clinched an 8-2 win over Emma Cartledge and Daniela Lopez. Boem and Skelly defeated Ysabel Gonzales-Rico and Defne Olcay in the top spot, while the No. 3 powerhouse duo of Puccinelli and Stow edged Christina Watson and Stephanie Taylor 8-7 (9).

 In singles, at the No. 4 spot, Schossberger only dropped one game, beating Lauren Yoon 6-0, 6-1, while Puccinelli clinched a 6-4, 6-3 win against Olcay in the third spot. Boehm solidified the team’s 6-1 lead with a 6-1,6-4 victory over Lopez at the No. 2 spot. The Eagles secured wins at the No. 1, No. 5, and No. 6 spots, but the Panthers posted three consecutive victories to make the final score of the match 6-3. With Emory knocked out of the top seed and Middlebury now ranked fifth, this historic win will propel the Panthers past a significant obstacle on their road to the national championship.

 To top the weekend off, the Panthers blanked Connecticut College, dropping only seven games in total during doubles play and achieving straight set wins in each of the singles matches. In doubles, the top tandem of Boehm and Skelly won 8-1 against Mariah Warren and Brooke Scully, while Emily Bian ’21 and Nora Dahl ’22 secured an 8-2 victory against Allison Falvey and Stephanie Simon in the third flight. Puccinelli and Stow defeated Meredith Kenny and Skylar Morgan 8-4 in the second pot.

 In singles, Stow swung past Rachel Weiss 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 4 spot, while Hughes blanked Simon at the second spot, and Schossberger cruised past Scully 6-2, 6-0 at the third spot. In the fifth flight, Bian clinched a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Morgan, while Boehm posted a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Emily Migliorini in the top position. First year Ruhi Kamdar was the final scorer for the panthers, triumphing over Paige Braithwaite 6-1, 6-2 at the bottom of the singles lineup.

 Coming off of such a successful weekend, maintaining humility will certainly be a key factor in the Panthers’ success. “We still understand that we need to take this season one match at a time,” Puccinelli said. “We will be playing tough teams every weekend from now until the NCAA tournament and we’re not going to underestimate a single one of them. We respect every team we play against and we need to take every match seriously if we’re going to have a chance of going all the way this season.”

 Boehm also noted the importance of team trust when it comes to maintaining composure during high-stakes matches like those of this weekend. “We know that if we look to our left and right on the courts, whoever is playing next to us will do whatever they can to find a win,” she said.

 The Middlebury women’s tennis team will return to action this Saturday when they host No.7 Tufts at 10:00am. On this current trajectory, it seems there is little that can stand in the Panthers’ way.