First Fall Tournament For Women’s Tennis Team Was Success With Six Wins

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Sophomore Alana McMahon waits at the net to return a serve from the opponent.  Photo courtesy of Jessy Mekpoh
Sophomore Alana McMahon waits at the net to return a serve from the opponent. Photo courtesy of Jessy Mekpoh

The women’s tennis team got up at 5 a.m. last Friday to get an early start on the weekend. The team was headed across the Bay where they played for two days in Berkeley for the invitational tournament.

The competition started on a sunny  Friday, while competitive teams from around the Golden State, Nevada and Utah arrived and began warming up.

Act 1

At 8 a.m., the Lady Dons played doubles, but the Wartenburger-Akerbrant and Gaitan-McMahon USF teams were easily defeated. Only the Reed-Mekpoh pair got a tight win (8-6) against a BYU (Utah) team.

Between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., the women’s tennis team played their first singles. Unfortunately, most of them failed against top-ranked players for whom this tournament was a preparation before the All-Americans tournament. The All-Americans tournamnet was going to oppose all the best college teams of the United States. It turned out to be a tight loss for juniors Cecilia Gratian and Julia Wartenburger who respectively lost 7-6/2-6/3-6 and 2-6/6-0/3-6.

Nevertheless, freshman Melinda Akerbrant was the last hope for USF in the main draw, thanks to her win 3-6/6-3/6-4 against a Sacramento State player. After two hours spent on the court during her first singles, Melinda had to play her second singles – or third match of the day.Hardly an hour and a half later, Akerbrant succumbed to fatigue and her opponent’s skill, ending her progress in the tournament.

The players who had lost in the morning had to play in the consolation draw, and in five matches, four went in three sets, while only Gratian and Wartenburger got a win.

Act 2

Saturday, 5:30 a.m.  Sore and tired, our Lady Dons were going to get in this new day of competition.

The morning doubles were tough, not only for the Reed-Mekpoh pair who fell against a solid and experienced Berkeley team, but also for the USF doubles teams playing in the consolation draw. However, Wartenburger, Akerbrant, Gaitan and McMahon played better than the previous day, and they felt like they had improved a little.

11 a.m. It was sunny and even hotter than Friday as Wartenburger, freshman Blair Reed and the four other players who had lost the previous day started their singles. Unfortunately, they were all defeated, Wartenburger, Reed and McMahon going in three sets.

At the end of the day, Coach Hilary Somers was quite satisfied by this tournament. “I think it was pretty good for a first tournament, especially because the level was high with several ranked teams,” Coach Somers said. “Also, I felt like the girls improved compared to yesterday: less tightness, more game. Now, each girl can set her goal accordingly for next season.”

Next week, the Lady Dons will play at the Saint Mary’s invitational, where the level of competition should be a little bit lower than in Berkeley, but where the competitiveness and intensity will be the same.

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