UMass takes on SHU after successful weekend

By Kara Deyermenjian

What happens when two teams who recently halted frustrating losing streaks with sweeping victories match up against each other?

The Massachusetts tennis team will find out when it hits the road Thursday afternoon to take on Sacred Heart.

Both teams have tremendous amounts of momentum on their sides as they both are coming off one-sided wins over the weekend.

“Sacred Heart is a good little team and we need to be ready,” UMass coach Judy Dixon said. “I think they are out to get us and they should be.”

The Pioneers were picked to finish third in the Northeast Conference this year and currently have a 7-9 record in dual matches. Elizabeth Harrington leads the team in wins this season, and currently holds a 7-2 record in the No. 3 singles spot.

SHU halted a five-match losing streak when they swept Hartford 7-0 Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers won four of their six singles matches with perfect 6-0, 6-0 play thanks to Kate Donnelly, Harrington, Kristina Chao, and Julianne Kasinow. SHU also dominated doubles play with three-straight wins.

The flawless win was much-needed and a long time coming for the Pioneers, as they had previously fallen to Creighton, Radford, Albany, Fairfield and Long Island.  

Due to the large number of teams in the Northeast Conference, UMass has never competed against the Pioneers. As the two teams face-off, the Minutewomen will attempt to keep their winning streak alive, while tying the team’s season-long win streak of four.

“We recently put Sacred Heart on our schedule due to their recent vast improvement, and we have to be ready for anything. They keep getting better and better,” Dixon said.

UMass enjoyed a similar fate to their upcoming opponent, as they snapped a five-game losing streak of their own last Thursday with a win against Presbyterian.

The Minutewomen also tacked on two more victories over the weekend, defeating the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Hofstra.

Junior Candynce Boney has had standout performances for the Minutewomen, going 4-1 in singles play over the last five matches. 

UMass freshman Julia Comas is also riding high this week, as she was named A-10 Rookie of the Week after recently being moved up to the first singles spot. Comas made a big impact over the weekend, winning both of her singles matches and improving her record to 3-1 at the No. 1 spot. It is Comas’ first career A-10 weekly award as well as the first time this season any UMass tennis player has been recognized for an A-10 accolade.

Coach Dixon and the Minutewomen are excited to get their last road game against the Pioneers out of the way.

“We just got back from the road, and are already traveling to Fairfield,” said Dixon. “The team is definitely ready to finish up the season at home and prepare for the tournament.”

The squad currently stands at 10-6 overall on the year. The Minutewomen return to the Mullins courts April 9 to take on the Great Danes of Albany, and will remain at home for the last two matches of the spring season. UMass will then prepare for the A-10 championships in St. Louis, Mo.

Kara Deyermenjian can be reached at [email protected].