“I thought some of our players did well, and for others, it was a wake up call in terms of the talent that exists is DI tennis,” UMass coach Judy Dixon said.
Sophomore Julia Comas headlined the UMass crew, going 2-2 over the weekend in both singles and doubles. The Barcelona-native won her first main draw singles match, defeating Marist’s Erin McCarthy, 6-4, 6-1, before losing to Boston College’s Erina Kikuchi in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2 in the second round.
“[Julia] definitely raised the bar,” Dixon said. “She has the game to be able to compete with some of these players out there that have some great individual talent, and she proved that she can hold her own with some of them.”
Senior Candynce Boney also competed in singles and doubles, with her lone win on the weekend coming in doubles main draw. Comas and Boney defeated Harvard’s Hideko Tachibana and Kristin Norton, 8-6, before losing to BC’s Kikuchi and Alex Kelleher in the second round, 8-3.
“We wanted to make an impact at ITA’s in doubles play, and I think we were able to post some decent results,” Dixon said. “These tournaments are designed for great individual talents, so I felt it was good for us to be able to continue working on doubles play against some of the best players in the area.”
Boney also competed in singles qualifying Friday, losing in the first round to Stony Brook’s Katherine Hanson in straight sets, 6-1 and 6-4. It was the last time that Boney would have the opportunity to compete for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament, but Dixon knows that Boney is just as excited for what’s to come for UMass this season.
“Although she’s probably upset that she didn’t qualify for NCAA’s, she’s an incredibly humble player,” Dixon said. “She knows that there’s a ton of talent out there, and she knows how exciting the rest of this season is going to be, so I think she’ll be just fine.”
Doubles play continued on for UMass, seeing two more pairs made up of a freshman duo and an experienced combo compete in the main draw event.
Freshman Jessica Podlofsky and Clara Matias were defeated in their first round matchup, losing to Stony Brook’s Prerana Appineni and Aylin Mehter, 8-4.
Senior Kaitlyn Carpenter and sophomore Jocelyn Providence were defeated in the first round, losing to Yale’s Elizabeth Epstein and Blair Seiderman, 8-2.
For Podlofsky and Matias, two players coming from two different countries and different styles of competitive backgrounds, Dixon believes that the weekend’s tournament provided her young, talented players with one universal understanding: collegiate tennis can be extremely difficult in all phases.
“For Jess, even though she’s seen some of these faces in local competition before coming to UMass, it’s a very different thing to now face them in a collegiate tournament,” Dixon said. “For Clara, someone who’s never previously played over here and hasn’t seen a whole lot of this style of play, it must have been a little overwhelming. For both of them, it was just another learning experience and an opportunity to continue improving their game, so that they can come back here and post even better results.”
UMass will conclude their fall season at the Big Green Invitational in Dartmouth Nov. 5-7, and Dixon hopes to see the players who participated in ITAs build upon what they’ve shown thus far this early campaign.
“ITAs provided a handful of our players with a sense of what’s coming, and they need to be ready for it,” Dixon said. “Before you know it, the thick of our season will be here, and hopefully this weekend’s tournament gave our players a sense of what kind of talent is ahead of them that they will have to compete against.”
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.