Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Captain Ruth Crawford leads UMass tennis into pivotal A-10 weekend matchups

UMass will take on Richmond and Saint Joseph’s

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Tim Sorota, Collegian Staff

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You will never hear it from her, but one of Ruth Crawford’s individual goals for her career as a member of the Massachusetts tennis team was to be named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week. On Wednesday, she achieved that goal.

Crawford dominated both the singles and doubles competitions against Fordham last Sunday, leading UMass to a 6-1 win over Fordham and securing the Co-Player of the Week award, along with Mattea Kilstofte of Dayton, in the process.

The junior captain could not have picked a better time to be playing her best tennis, as the Minutewomen now have two crucial conference matchups this weekend against Richmond and Saint Joseph’s.

It will be the first time UMass will take on two conference opponents in the same weekend all season. The next time they hope to face this daunting of a challenge will be in two weeks when they head to Orlando, Florida, to participate in the A-10 championships. A run to the championship match will result in five games in five days.

“These matches will really set the tone for the A-10 tournament coming up,” Crawford said. “But we are just going to treat these like any other match. We are going to do our best and hopefully get the wins.”

And their best has been good enough to win a lot of contests and garner attention around the conference this season. UMass’ traditional top three singles players, Ana Yrazusta, Crawford and sophomore Janja Kovacevic have all taken home the A-10 Player of the Week Award.

On Friday, the Minutewomen will head to Richmond, Virginia. The Spiders are 5-10 on the season but have faced stingy competition including Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Virginia and North Carolina, who are both ranked in the top 20 with the Tar Heels claiming the top spot in this week’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll.

Richmond sports a 2-1 record in conference play, which includes two identical 7-0 shutout wins against Rhode Island and George Mason, as well as a loss to George Washington. UMass has yet to face any of those teams this year.

The Spiders have also won three matches in a row.

After Richmond, the Minutewomen will travel up the road to Philadelphia for a date with Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks have struggled this year with a 3-13 record, but two of those wins came in conference. Like the Spiders, St. Joe’s took care of URI and also handled St. Bonaventure 5-2.

While no win is ever easy, UMass would have to be the favorite in both contests this weekend, which is something that Crawford is not used to as a three-year member of the team.

“We are used to being an underdog and fighting our way up,” Crawford said. “So, whatever happens, we will always be battling, and nothing is ever going to change about that.”

UMass no longer finds itself in the underdog role, in part due to the emergence of star sophomore Kovacevic, who has a spring record of 11-2 as a singles player.

The Minutewomen’s regular season will conclude a week from Friday when they return to Amherst to take on URI on Friday, April 20.

Tim Sorota can be reached at [email protected], and followed on twitter @timsorota.

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