Ava Compagnoni (email@example.com)
The Lady Bears of Ursinus’ Women’s Tennis Team made the trip down to Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Virginia, September 24-26, for an International Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Small College Tournament. After missing out on the ITA last year due to COVID, the Lady Bears could not wait for the competition. Many schools refused to travel for the tournament because of individual school COVID policies, therefore, teams who did compete were able to bring more players than in past years. Ursinus was able to bring six top players, seniors Maddie Russell and Cara Freedman; juniors Caitlin Vinsonhaler and Avery Samer; and freshmen Shannon Stewart and Allie Armour.
The Lady Bears arrived Friday evening for a short practice before starting matches early Saturday morning. All matches were eight game pro-sets. This style is normal for doubles matches, yet different from a normal best-of-three sets for singles matches. Four year senior double partners, Russell and Freedman, were selected for the Championship Doubles draw. They unfortunately lost in the first round to University of Lynchburg, 8-3. However, they won their consolation match over Arianna Goitz and Molly Michel of Dickinson, 8-5.
Sophomores Vinsonhaler and Samer were selected for the B2 doubles draw. They started off strong with a first round win over Stevenson, 8-0. The chemistry between the two in the first match was critical and showed in their gameplay. In the quarterfinals, the team started out rocky, falling behind 4-1 before rallying and just missing the mark in a 6-8 loss to Sweet Briar College. Vinsonhaler was pleased with their game play for their first ITA’s. “This was my first time going to ITAs and first time playing doubles with Avery, we quickly adjusted to our opponents. Our communication and chemistry on the court helped us make it to the second round and tough it out with another talented team. Being able to compete and watch highly ranked D3 schools in tennis was really awesome,” says Vinsonhaler.
Armour and Stewart’s collegiate debut in the B2 doubles draw began with a thrilling win over Salisbury in a tie breaker, 8-7. The team easily kept control of their opponents to win their set tiebreaker, 7-3. In the quarterfinals, Armour and Stweart were down 5-2 against Bridgewater College before taking 6 of the last 7 games to win 8-6. In the Sunday morning semifinals, they lost to a Averett University team, 8-3. “The tournament was a great bonding experience for the team, and it was very fun to compete against talented players we usually don’t play,” Armour stated.
Russell, first singles for Ursinus, drew the #3 seed in the first round against Lindy Cornwall from Carnegie Mellon and lost, 8-2. Russell struggled again against Riley Smith from Mary Washington, 4-8. Russell is pleased with how she played and understands the competition pool is very strong for higher ranking players.
Armour played in the B2 singles draw, and started her singles career with a massive win. She beat Alisha White, a senior from Washington College, in the first round of the tournament; White is a 3-time All Centennial performer. Armour sent the match into a tie breaker at 7-7, then rallied in the tiebreaker to win 7-3. Armour lost in her semifinal, 8-3, to Christopher Newport University.
Samer played in the B4 draw and lost in the first round to the #1 seed from Sweet Briar College, 8-2. In the back draw, she won by walk-over against F&M. Vinsonhaler, in the B5 draw, won her first match over Bridgewater College, 8-3. In her semifinal match, she fell in a close 8-4 match vs Averett University. Stewart, playing in B6, won her first-round match against Catholic U, 8-5. In her semifinal, she lost to the number 1 seed from Salisbury, 8-2.
Overall, the Lady Bears were successful down in Virginia after a year off and with an almost entirely new team. They look forward to an exciting upcoming season.