The Massachusetts women’s tennis team competed against some of the best teams in the region at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Championships this past weekend at Harvard.
UMass coach Judy Dixon said that her team’s competition consisted of “the best teams in the northeast region” in both singles and doubles play.
Freshman Aarzoo Malik led the pack for the Minutewomen, advancing to the Round of 32 in both singles and doubles play. She won her first solo match against Lauren Frazier of Cornell (6-4, 6-2) before falling to fifth-seeded Jessica Wacnik of Boston College (6-2, 6-3).
The rest of the Minutewomen had mixed success in the singles draw. Senior Sonia Bokhari won her first match, defeating Nicole Chris of Fairleigh Dickinson in convincing fashion (6-1, 6-2) before bowing out to Lexi Borr of Boston College (6-4, 6-1). Arielle Griffin received a bye in the first round only to match up against No. 1 Sol Eskenazi of Pennsylvania. Griffin put up a fight, but eventually lost the match (6-2, 6-3). Senior co-captain Jessica Podlofsky lost to Dorothy Tang of Princeton (6-1, 4-6, 6-2) in the qualifying round.
In doubles play, the Bokhari and Griffin pair faced the seventh-ranked doubles team Katherine Yau and Taylor Ng from Dartmouth and lost 8-2.
The other Minutewomen doubles pair, Aarzoo Malik and Juliana Motyl, advanced to the second round before being knocked out of the tournament.
Dixon has high hopes for Malik and Motyl, who were ranked as the No. 14 doubles team in the tournament, despite being a new pair.
“They’re still a work in progress for doubles,” she said. “It’s a new combination.”
Overall, Dixon was pleased with her team’s performance over the weekend.
“I left the weekend feeling like we passed the test,” she said. “There were all sorts of things to make this a difficult event.”
And with each new challenge, her team is gaining experience.
“Mental toughness comes with more matches,” she said.
According to Dixon, these first few matches have also put the Minutewomen in “better physical condition,” but she acknowledges the constant threat of injury, which is something that the team struggled with at the beginning of the year.
“I’m always nervous,” she said. “Every coach, every team talks about the difficulty of managing tennis as a sport. It’s such a long season … At the moment, we’re injury-free.”
Up next for UMass is its final tournament of the fall season, the Big Green Invitational.
Arthur Hayden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.