UMass tennis falls to Dartmouth in Big Green Invitational finale

By Christopher Marino

(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)
(Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian)

The Big Green Invitational saw its share of success for the Massachusetts tennis side, with a victory over Denver Friday and a draw against Minnesota Saturday, before the Minutewomen ultimately fell to host Dartmouth 8-2 in the invitational finale Sunday afternoon.

The weekend started off with a UMass victory over Denver by a count of 4-3. Brittany Collens (6-4, 6-4), Carol Benito (6-3, 6-2) and Laura Moreno (2-6, 6-2, 7-6) each contributed singles victories. Moreno’s comeback in three sets clinched the Minutewomen’s victory.

On Saturday against Minnesota, UMass again received strong play in singles action with four players collecting wins. However, the doubles team struggled as they were swept by the Gophers, resulting in a 4-4 split. Benito and Collens again added victories in their respective matches with Ruth Crawford and Arielle Griffin earning wins as well.

In addition to its struggles in doubles play against Minnesota, UMass also lost all three doubles matches against Dartmouth later on in the invitational’s afternoon session.

Before facing the Big Green in doubles play, both Ana Yrazusta and Aarzoo Malik retired in the second sets of their single matches against the Gophers due to injury. Yrazusta’s ailment forced UMass’ top doubles pair of her and Benito to sit out of competition against Dartmouth.

While both injuries are considered minor, they left Minutewomen coach Judy Dixon conflicted on the weekend and the focus of her team.

“The weekend for me was mixed,” Dixon said. “I continue to feel this team is very talented, but some of them take it for granted. The fact we did as well as we did was as a testament to how talented we are, but I wish it was a testament to our hard work.”

In its 8-2 loss to the Big Green in the finale, all five of UMass’ singles losses were pushed to three sets as the Minutewomen showed a great deal of competitiveness. But it left Dixon wondering what could have been.

“Look how well we can play with 60 percent effort in practice, our practices have not been what I want them to be,” Dixon said. “We need that extra 40 percent to get where we want to be, which is the conference championship”.

While the outcome was an overall positive one for UMass, it didn’t provide a sense of satisfaction to their coach as she felt the injuries left something on the table.

“I’m not concerned about the injuries, I’m concerned about focus on it. The injuries become magnified through lack of fitness, which is a result of not practicing with the intensity I’d like,” Dixon said.

Dixon said she’s confident the injuries sustained by Yrazusta and Malik will not significantly affect them moving forward, yet the pattern of minor injuries that she’s seeing on her team does concern her. Most of the bumps in the road for this team are a result of minor ailments that she sees as fitness issues that require an increase in intensity in practice to be resolved.

Despite her issues with the team’s physical conditioning, Dixon still found room for optimism after the weekend tournament.

“Ruth Crawford, Anna Woosley and Carol Benito stood out with their play this weekend and I was overall impressed,” Dixon said. “They showed they are the same caliber as the competition we faced.”

The singles matches against the Big Green Sunday marked the end of the fall season and the last competition the Minutewomen have until Jan. 29 at Brown.

“We’re talented enough to be competitive but hard work will push us over the hump,” Dixon said. “It is up to them now going into the offseason to keep moving in the direction we want.”

Christopher Marino can be reached at [email protected]