Chanel Glasper shines as UMass tennis ends season in dominant fashion

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Chanel Glasper vigorously volleys the ball. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Chanel Glasper vigorously volleys the ball. (Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts tennis team couldn’t have scripted a better end to its regular season.

The Minutewomen finished at 14-4 (4-0 Atlantic 10), winning seven straight to end the season, including a 7-0 victory over Sacred Heart Sunday in its season finale.

Now, UMass heads into the A-10 tournament in an excellent position after finishing its perfect conference record.

Sunday’s victory also marked the final regular season performance for seniors Chanel Glasper and Gianna Francis, who were honored on Senior Day.

Glasper, who was an important fixture on the roster over the last four years, began to say her goodbyes Sunday. Accompanied by her grandparents and teammates on the court, the team presented her with flowers, a card and a round of applause. Then, Glasper did something she rarely ever does.

She cried.

“I’ve never cried playing,” she said. “Maybe once when I lost freshman year (in the A-10 tournament) but that’s it.”

Glasper turned the emotional ceremony into positive momentum on the court. She and Anna Woosley easily took care of their doubles match, defeating Haley Dubits and Emma Pezzullo, 8-0.

UMass was rewarded with the doubles point after sweeping all three matches from the Pioneers and was just as dominant in singles play, winning all six matches.

Glasper tried not to let the emotions of her final game at UMass get to her while playing.

“I was trying not to think about it too much but in the last game it started setting in and when I played the last point and started talking to (coach) Judy (Dixon) I realized that my career was almost over,” she said.

Glasper defeated Claudia Ruiz 6-2, 6-0 to secure her 76th career victory, an all-time program record for singles victories. Her intensity increasingly rose as the match continued, her shouts of “mine” echoing throughout the courts after every point she scored.

“What I have been saying to her is that this is a career well-deserved,” Dixon said of Glasper. “She waited till this year to become the captain and she completely turned this team into what it is. I give her all the credit really because I think senior leadership is crucial for any team.”

UMass also picked up a victory the day before on the road, defeating Bryant, 7-0. More importantly, No. 1 singles starter Aarzoo Malik came away with victories in both matches.

Malik, whose struggles were well-documented this season, could use the recent stretch as a confidence booster heading into the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

“It’s crucial (that she won),” Dixon said. “We wanted to make sure that she won because it has her going into the tournament with more confidence.”

UMass traveled to Rhode Island last week to take on the University of Rhode Island and Bryant University. Dixon mentioned prior to the road trip that she felt Bryant was going to be the most difficult of the final three teams.

But UMass turned in another power performance against the Bulldogs. Ana Yrazusta secured her 20th win of the season while the doubles team of Yrazusta and Carol Benito won their 23rd game, improving to 23-5 this year.

The Rams were UMass’ final A-10 opponent this season. URI fell to the Minutewomen 6-1, allowing UMass to complete the sweep of conference opponents.

“I felt that in the URI win, we did what we needed to do,” Dixon said. “We didn’t do great, but we did good enough.”

Dixon has coached the UMass tennis program for 23 seasons. She has coached an A-10 championship team as well as four runner-ups. So it means something when she says this year’s team might be the best out of all of them.

“This is, if not these best, one of the best,” Dixon said. “I would stick my neck out and say this is probably the best team I have had at UMass in terms of depth, in terms of talent, in terms of doubles but also they have been an extremely easy team to coach.”

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