Updated on March 9 at 11 p.m.
With an adjusted lineup, the women's tennis team took care of business on Saturday, defeating University of Massachusetts, 5-2.
Playing without senior Bianca Sanon and junior Crystal Leung—whom head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC '02, sat for the match to comply with an Ivy League rule on the number of matches an individual can play in a season—the No. 43 Lions (7-2) didn't miss a beat. First-year Tina Jiang moved up to play with sophomore Kanika Vaidya in the No. 1 doubles slot, and the pair easily dispatched the Minutewomen's Sonia Bokhari and Yuliana Motyl, 8-2.
“At first we were still trying to get a feel for playing with each other, but then we started getting the hang of it,” Jiang said. “She [Vaidya] has a really great serve, so that made it really easy for me to put away balls at the net.”
The Lions clinched the doubles point soon after on the second court, with senior Ioana Alecsiu and junior Gabriela Suriano taking their match, 5-4.
“I try to pair people up in doubles based on chemistry between the players,” Weintraub said. “We practiced all week with those pairs, so even though they'd never played a match before, we had really prepared them to communicate well and know their roles on each team.”
Though the Light Blue breezed through the doubles competition, some of the singles matches took significantly longer to decide. Not so with Jiang's, as the first-year took out Bokhari on the second court, 6-0, 6-0.
“I feel like I was moving pretty well, so I got to a lot of balls and made her hit an extra ball,” Jiang said. “I played pretty aggressive. I came in and finished a lot of points at the net.”
No. 59 Vaidya was next off the court with a 6-1, 6-4 victory, giving Columbia a 3-1 lead. But the Lions wouldn't clinch until much later, as Cheng and Takenaga both fell in straight sets to bring the Minutewomen within a point in the team score.
But the Lions came through on the No. 5 and No. 6 courts. Alecsiu dropped her second set, but blew her opponent away in the third to win, 6-4, 5-7, 6-0, and clinch the Light Blue victory. Sophomore Nada Zaher, inserted into the lineup because of the sitting upperclassmen, also pulled off a three-set win, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
“I thought she competed really well,” Weintraub said of Zaher. “It's not easy to play a three-set match for the first time you're ever playing a college dual match. She really did a job of maintaining her composure and sticking to the game plan until the end.”
Heading into spring break, the Lions have now won three straight and seven out of their last eight matches.
The Lions will play four matches over spring break—two in Nevada, and then two more in Florida.
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