Spring break week offered little rest for the University of Massachusetts tennis team as UMass played three matches in as many days in Charleston, S.C. starting on Wednesday, March 19.
In the Minutewomen’s last match of the busy week, they took on Tulane on Friday. UMass caught a bit of a break coming in as injuries forced the Green Wave to forfeit the No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles matches with only five players available. The advantage of needing only one doubles victory to secure the overall doubles point proved slight, as Arielle Griffin and Aarzoo Malik were leading the No. 1 doubles match when Sonia Bokhari and Chanel Glasper finished their match, securing the necessary win at No. 2 doubles (8-5).
“When we played Tulane, our doubles were quite good” UMass coach Judy Dixon said. “I feel like we’ve got the right combinations and the right players out there.”
After Griffin secured her second singles victory of the week, a No. 4 singles win against Tulane’s Emily Dvorak (6-0,6-1), the Minutewomen led 3-0 and looked poised to take the match, however, the Green Wave would not go quietly. Tulane rattled off three victories in the top three singles spots to tie the match, leaving the final result up to their own Margaux Hyman and none other than Jessica Podlofsky in the No. 5 spot.
In dramatic fashion, Podlofsky once again battled back from a first set loss to defeat her Tulane opponent 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, securing the victory for the Minutewomen and finishing her tremendous week with a personal 3-0 record.
“This was a really good win for us, a really solid win” Dixon said. “Coming away from this spring trip, I feel we got what we needed. We played outdoor matches and won two of three.”
Minutewomen cruise by Georgia Southern
In UMass’ second match of the week against Georgia Southern, it bounced back from the previous day’s loss in a big way, defeating the Eagles 6-1.
Doubles competition proved difficult for the Minutewomen all season long, but, led by the No. 1 pairing of Bokhari and Glasper, UMass won all three doubles matches on Thursday, securing the doubles point, and setting the tone for a dominant performance. Bokhari, a senior, also cruised to a win at No. 2 singles over Georgia Southern’s Jordana Klein (6-0, 6-0).
Podlofsky wrapped up the afternoon with another gutsy victory, fighting back, after dropping the first set, to defeat Giulai Riepe (2-6, 6-1, 6-4). Malik, Griffin, and Glasper also posted singles victories.
UMass drops first match of busy week
Entering the week, Podlofsky was still looking for her first victory since Feb. 9 when she tied Michelle Spiess for the UMass record for career singles victories, going 0-5 in that stretch.
In the team’s first match of the week, a showdown with the College of Charleston, Podlofsky secured the career singles record outright with a straight set victory over Grace Baker (6-4, 4-3). Her victory was the lone bright spot for the Minutewomen that day, providing the squad with their only victory as part of a 1-6 loss.
Dixon cited the sudden jump to outdoor play as a factor in the team’s early-week struggles.
“We had played four hours outdoors in the last four months,” she said. “It’s harder to play outside. It takes more energy…I feel like we played some good first sets and then we ran out of gas.”
She also remarked on Podlofsky’s record-breaking performance and her ability to get over the hump.
“I feel like it was a relief to her”, she said. “She knows know that she’s got it back…The importance of her playing well on this team cannot be understated.”
The added outdoor experience, a hard thing to come by in snowy Amherst, will prove helpful for the Minutewomen as they look to carry their momentum into the later part of their schedule with significantly more outdoor matches scheduled, including their next match against Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn. on April 2.
Arthur Hayden can be reached at [email protected]