Tennis shines in West Point Invitational

By Jamie Cushman

(Julia Cardillo/Collegian File Photo)
(Julia Cardillo/Collegian File Photo)

The Massachusetts’s women’s tennis team made a strong statement over the weekend at the West Point Invitational tournament held in West Point, New York, as it was one of the strongest performers out of 18 participating teams.

The top performer for the Minutewomen was freshman Ana Yrazusta Acosta, who advanced to the final round of the second singles flight before withdrawing due to an abdominal injury which prevented her from properly executing her serve.

“She is an excellent player,” UMass coach Judy Dixon said of the freshman. “She has a big forehand and I think she would have won the final had she not gotten hurt. She is really a huge asset for us.”

UMass’ first singles displayed similar success. After losing her first match to Stony Brook sophomore Nadia Smergut, Minutewomen junior Arielle Griffin went on to win four straight matches in the backdraw, advancing to the final round. The other UMass representative, sophomore Aarzoo Malik, also performed admirably.

Malik won her first two matchups in order to advance to the quarterfinals, defeating Fordham senior Ellie Ball and Long Island University sophomore Marine Dans along the way. Malik lost her quarterfinal matchup to Syracuse sophomore Valeria Salazar 6-2, 6-4. Salazar went on to win the first singles bracket.

Another strong point for the Minutewomen was the first doubles flight, as both teams advanced to the semi-finals. Junior Carol Benito and Yrazusta defeated teams from Connecticut, Stony Brook and Quinnipiac before facing eventual finals champions Komal Safdar and Salazar from the Orange in a tight match that finished 8-7 (4).

The victory in the finals for Syracuse came over the other UMass duo of Griffin and Malik. Griffin and Malik won four straight matches before coming up short in the finals, losing to the Syracuse squad 8-3.

In addition to Yrazusta’s injury, the Minutewomen’s other representative in the second singles flight, sophomore Anna Woosley also suffered some bad luck in the tournament. Woosley won her first match before withdrawing from the tournament due to a stomach illness.

Dixon said that she was pleased with the team’s performance over the weekend.

“We did really well,” Dixon said. “I wanted us to create a presence that we were one of the top three teams at the tournament and I think we did that in all of the flights and all of the matchups.”

The strong play by UMass comes on the heels of an almost equally encouraging performance last weekend at the Brown Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island. The team has played well so far, raising expectations for the upcoming season.

“This team has a lot of talent,” Dixon said. “We have one goal in mind and that is to win the Atlantic 10 tournament.”

Much of the focus of the fall schedule for the Minutewomen is working on individual improvements, according to Dixon.

“We’re seeing results from the individual changes and I am pleased they are incorporating the requested changes,” Dixon said.

The Minutewomen will now have some time off from competition before travelling to Storrs, Connecticut, for the team’s only fall dual match in a matchup against UConn on Thursday, Oct. 9. Fall dual matches count against a team’s win-loss record but are not taken into consideration for ranking purposes.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]