Depth a strong point in UMass’ opening tournament at Brown

By Ryan Donovan

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Alex Mojcher/Daily Collegian

Alex Mojcher/Daily Collegian

With a lot to prove coming off a successful season last year, the Massachusetts tennis team opened its season with a three-day tournament at Brown University over the weekend.

UMass had its hands full with the round-robin style tournament that featured several strong tennis programs. Harvard, Rutgers, Stony Brook, Boston University and St. John’s were among the participants, along with the host team, Brown.

Now in her 22nd season with the Minutewomen, coach Judy Dixon knew it was going to be a challenging weekend for her team.

“We had a good outing. The teams were very strong, so it was good for us. It puts us in a good position for our next match against UConn,” Dixon said.

Finishing with a 17-­5 record last season – good enough for runner ­up in the Atlantic­ 10 Conference – UMass felt confident going into the season and demonstrated their worth in a tournament filled with competitive teams.

The early test put the Minutewomen in a good position for their season opening head-to-head match­up versus Connecticut later this week as the team displayed a well-­rounded performance.

In singles and doubles play alike, UMass’s depth up and down the lineup was evident over the weekend.

“Our number one doubles team of Ana Yrazusta and Carol Benito started really well, and Ruth Crawford, who redshirted last season and didn’t play a single match, came back very strong, and that bodes well for the team,” Dixon said. “Between Ana and Ruth, we have a strong one-two, which is something that we’ve struggled with in the past.”

In addition to the depth the team showed, Dixon is also happy with this year’s mix of experienced upperclassmen and newcomers to the program. She praised the veterans of the team in particular for strong efforts over the weekend.

Arielle Griffin, team co-MVP last year, led the way for the upperclassmen, winning three matches and placing fourth in the black division of the singles tournament, starting right where she left off from the 2014 season.

Junior Anna Woosley was a participant in the invitational as well. She is coming off a season that saw her earn 24 wins and second team all-conference A-10 honors, but had to exit the tournament early due to injury.

In addition to the older group of players, Dixon said sophomore transfer Lauren Moreno will play a key role on the team going forward.

“Lauren is really coming on and playing better every single match,” Dixon said. “I believe she has some of the best tennis in front of her.”

Dixon also said that juniors Aarzoo Malik and Brittany Collens had strong showings over the weekend in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Brown Invitational set the tone for the rest of the season, as UMass confirmed it can compete with some of the stronger teams in the country, and as a team, Dixon says she likes the position they’re in heading into the official start of the season.

“This tournament helped us prepare for UConn. Even though it’s out of conference, it’s always a rivalry and it’s good when we can beat them,” Dixon said. “We got the best of them last year and we hope we can do it again this year to put us in a good place moving forward.”

The Minutewomen will take on the Huskies at the Mullins Center Courts on Thursday at 2 p.m.

Ryan Donovan can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Rpdonovan10.