Minutewomen shine in opening invitational

By Arthur Hayden

The Massachusetts women’s tennis team kicked off its season over the weekend at the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I., and, against some of the top teams in the Northeast in Binghamton, Boston College, Boston University, Buffalo, Providence and Rutgers, fared well.
Going up against some of the stiffest competition the team will face all year, the Minutewomen showed promise despite being hampered by injuries. Sophomore Arielle Griffin, who boasted a 15-3 singles record last year, and freshman Anna Woosley, a freshman from Sussex, England, did not make the trip due to lingering injuries. Aarzoo Malik, a freshman from New Delhi, India and junior Chanel Glasper did make the trip, but suffered injuries of their own during the first days of action.

Rehan Talat/Daily Collegian

Regardless, the Minutewomen powered through. Senior Yuliana Motyl led the team in singles play and won the consolation final in the Gold Singles bracket after losing a long first match. Glasper was forced to forfeit her first match because of cramps despite winning the first set, but stormed back by dominating her next match without dropping a single game against Karen Ramirez, a name the Minutewomen may see again when the Friars come to Amherst on Sept. 28.
Glasper and senior Jessica Podlofsky – who along with Motyl was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Squad last year – paired up to win three doubles matches before falling in the consolation final match to Sarah Kandath and Ammu Mandalap of Brown, 8-5.
UMass coach Judy Dixon is looking to find a playing partner for Motyl following the graduation of Chantal Swiszcz, one half of UMass’ No. 1 doubles team from last season that was ranked sixth in the 2013 ITA Northeast Regional Final rankings.
Dixon, the winningest tennis coach in UMass history, is entering her 22nd year coaching tennis at UMass and seemed as confident as ever about her group heading into the tournament.
“We have a really talented team, probably one of the most talented teams I’ve had in all the 20 years I’ve been coaching,” Dixon said.
Malik shook off her early injury to team up with Motyl over the weekend to secure their first victory together against the host duo of Mariska Chamdani and Nikita Uberoi.
In a compelling pairing of a veteran and a new face, senior Sonia Bokhari and freshman Iris Raileanu from Stockholm, Sweden, took fourth place overall in the doubles after winning their first and third matches in convincing fashion before falling to Buffalo’s Margarita Kotok and Ana Maria Candanoza in the third place match.
When asked about the injuries, Dixon said, “It’s frustrating for sure,” and added that she was “mildly optimistic” that the whole team would be near full strength for Tuesday’s practice, but she seemed confident in the Minutewomen’s ability to overcome their nagging injuries.
“Tennis is such a long season,” Dixon said. “It really starts in September and then it goes all the way through till April. We really have the depth to be able to sustain a solid team. I do believe that this is probably the deepest team (we’ve had). Then it causes a whole other situation which is, how do you keep everybody happy when everybody that’s in this starting eight has the ability to step in and play?”
It’s a good problem for UMass to have and it will look to carry some momentum into its home debut against Providence on Saturday.
Arthur Hayden can be reached at [email protected]