The Occidental women’s tennis team (5-10 overall, 1-5 SCIAC) played two close matches this past week, claiming victory over UC Santa Cruz on Thursday before falling to conference foe Chapman on Saturday. The two games are representative of the Tigers’ season so far — they have only once strung together consecutive victories but have remained competitive by pushing opponents to the final few sets.
However, it seems that Occidental’s inability to get over the hump and close out matches stemmed from fatigue induced by a rigorous schedule. Prior to facing UC Santa Cruz, the Tigers had just finished an eight day stretch in which they played six matches, leaving little time for recuperation. When the team took the courts against the Banana Slugs, it was again forced to play on short rest.
“I was very exhausted coming into my match against Pacific,” Keilani Bonis-Ericksen (senior) said via email. “However, I knew we had a good chance against UC Santa Cruz, so we came out energized and motivated to play a competitive match.”
In their match-up with the Banana Slugs, Occidental set the tone early by winning all three doubles matches by decisive margins. The number one Tigers duo Samantha Farrel (sophomore) and Bonis-Ericksen’s 8-4 victory was the closest match of the doubles session, while the Tigers number two and three doubles cruised to 8-3 and 8-2 wins.
Farrell followed up her doubles win with a 6-3, 6-3 straight set victory in Occidental’s number one singles position. Bonis-Ericksen followed suit by shutting down the Banana Slugs in a battle between number two singles, claiming the win in straight sets 6-1, 6-3.
Andrea Clawson (first year) capped the Tigers 6-3 win over UC Santa Cruz by grinding out a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 three set victory.
Occidental attempted to carry over their success against UC Santa Cruz into their match against Chapman, but it was unable to follow through. In the opening doubles matches the Tigers pushed the Panthers to the brink before giving way, as Bonnis-Ericksen and Farrell took Chapman to a tiebreaker in doubles one. But the Occidental duo could not put their opponent away, dropping the match 9-8 (8-6). Occidental’s second doubles pair Lauren Hutkin (sophomore) and Nicole Pelletier (first year) played a similar match to their teammates, fighting the Bulldogs to a close but unfruitful 9-7 loss.
Despite the Tigers’ initial difficulty in closing out their early matches, Clawson and Bella Korfmann (junior) claimed a definitive 8-2 victory in doubles three. Clawson followed up her success in doubles with another impressive win in Occidental’s sixth singles, giving up only one set to her opponent in a 6-0, 6-1 win.
“In my match against UC Santa Cruz I barely lost my singles match in a tie breaker,” Hutkin said. “It was a very hard loss, and I knew I did not want that to happen again. Because we have had so many matches back-to-back, we have not had many practices, but going into that match I knew I was going to have to focus since this week has taken a huge toll on all of us physically and mentally.”
While the Tigers were able to claim three singles wins, it still was not enough to overcome the early deficit from the doubles matches. Occidental again added another close loss to its resume, dropping its matchup against Chapman 5-4.
Despite the loss, the Tigers look to remain competitive, and with more rest coming their way, the team is confident it can bounce back and wreak havoc in their final three matches.
“For the remainder of the season, we are looking to be competitive against Cal Lutheran and place above Cal Tech, Whittier and Chapman in the SCIAC tournament,” Bonnis-Ericksen said.
The Tigers next match will be 10 a.m. this Saturday at Scholl Canyon against conference rival Cal Lutheran.