UMass tennis handles Albany to end two-game losing streak

By Christopher Marino

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

The Massachusetts tennis team bounced back from two straight losses to defeat Albany 5-2 in Albany, New York Saturday afternoon.

The victory was keyed by dominant singles play that saw the Minutewomen (6-6) take four of six possible points. None of the four wins for UMass went beyond the second set.

“This was really, really important. Like playing St. Johns, Albany is very much the same as us,” Minutewomen coach Judy Dixon said. “And I want to separate us from that group.”

With the level of competition against teams like Albany, Dixon hopes to elevate the program to a more elite standing.

“As I have told (the players), I would rather be at the low end of the best then the top end of the mid-major.” Dixon said.

A significant turning point for each and every match is the outcome of doubles play, said Dixon, and Saturday was no different for UMass, which won two of three double matches to set the stage for success in singles matches.

“The third doubles was the key absolutely to the match,” she said. “Had we gone into the singles play down a point as opposed to up a point we may have struggled a bit more … we had a little bit of cushion.”

Dixon added: “For us, historically when we win the doubles point, 85 percent of the time we win the match.”

The third and deciding doubles match was won by the pair of Laura Moreno and Arielle Griffin, who took the match 6-4 against what Dixon considered to be Albany’s top doubles pairing of Chassidy King and Jovana Kenic. UMass’ Ana Yrazusta and Carol Benito cruised in the first doubles match, winning 6-0.

After two tough losses in Connecticut at the hands of Yale and No. 41 Dartmouth, the Minutewomen had two weeks to prepare for the matchup and hoped for improved results.

“We have been training the last two weeks better than we have the whole year.” Dixon said. “I said to them, ‘You are going to go to boot camp, because we need to toughen up.’”

The results of that boot camp was a singles performance which overwhelmed the Great Danes (4-4). Ruth Crawford started off with a 7-6, 6-2 win for UMass in the only match that contained a set contested within a single point. Yrazusta (6-1, 6-4), Anna Woosley (6-0, 6-3) and Benito (6-2, 6-3) also contributed victories.

“It puts us in a good position right now. If we can sustain this for the next week outdoors, then we come back and we are in a good position to sort of run the table. That’s what I am hoping for.” Dixon said.

Next week the Minutewomen head to South Carolina to begin the outdoor portion of the season with three matches over the spring break. Dixon looks at it as another important springboard into the remainder of the season.

“The matches after spring break are matches that we should do well in. I suspect that we are going to end the season with 15 wins…that’s our goal and that’s well within reach for us right now.” Dixon said.

The Minutewomen will open their road trip at the College of Charleston next Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Chris Marino can be reached at [email protected]