Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dartmouth and Fordham to start stretch of key games for Minutewomen

By Philip Sanzo

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(Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian)

(Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian)

Looking to continue their three-match winning streak, the Massachusetts tennis team will face the task of bringing down unbeaten Dartmouth Thursday evening in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The Big Green – ranked No. 22 in the nation – will most definitely prove to be a formidable opponent; the Ivy League team currently stands at 10-0 and sits at the top of their conference.

UMass catches Dartmouth in the midst of their best start in years. While the Big Green has players who’ve earned national recognition for their talent, they haven’t grabbed all of the Minutewomen’s attention.

Coach Judy Dixon said the team’s main focus is on their own play, as opposed to who their opponent is going to be.

“Instead of focusing on Dartmouth we are trying to focus on ourselves and on being more aggressive,” Dixon said.

Defeating the Big Green is a daunting task no one has been able achieve so far this season. So a loss to Dartmouth would not necessarily tarnish Dixon’s view of her team.

“I’m looking for individual efforts,” Dixon commented. In the last few matches, that’s exactly what the Minutewomen have gotten from some of their key performers.

If the past indicates anything, UMass will have a shot against the Big Green. The Minutewomen faced off against Dartmouth in the Big Green Invitational in the fall season. Though the final results were not favorable for UMass, the Minutewomen received quality performances from a number of players, including Ana Yrazusta, Aarzoo Malik, Anna Woosley and Carol Benito. The UMass doubles team of Yrazusta and Benito was able to take a victory away from Big Green pairing Alexxis Kiven and Taylor Ng, the Northeast’s fifth-ranked doubles team.

The Minutewomen “are not frightened” by the task of taking on Dartmouth, according to Dixon because this will not be the first meeting between the two.

After today’s matchup with the Big Green, UMass will take on Fordham this Sunday in Amherst. And while Dartmouth may be the better team, Fordham is the more important game. Out of 17 total games in the spring season, just three are against Atlantic 10 opponents, making the matchup against the Rams critical in terms of conference positioning.

Dixon and the Minutewomen know the match against Fordham will be a showdown.

“In the Fordham match the bull’s eye is on our backs,” Dixon said. “Each match you play in the A-10 is critical.”

Upcoming matches against Fordham, Providence and Saint Louis will be important matches as UMass moves into the midway part of the season. It is the time of year that the Minutewomen are going to need to play their best tennis.

With everybody healthy the team is poised to succeed considering the results of their most recent games.

“Everybody is healthy, there are no injuries,” Dixon said. “It is an important time to be good.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

About the Writer
Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor
UMass’s depth and St. Joseph’s high scorer means Friday’s semifinal has potential for a possible shootout.
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