Coming off a developmental, tournament-based fall season, Boston College women’s tennis jumpstarted the long weekend with its spring season opener against Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon. The transition into the dual season was a hopeful one, as the Eagles showcased strength in the first-semester teaser with a deadly duo in doubles team Kylie Wilcox and Jackie Urbinati. In the first game of the 2018-19 season, the two advanced to the quarterfinals in the ITA Regional Championships and were a mere one win away from reaching the main draw of the ITA Women’s All-American Championships early in October. The Eagles also boasted an impressive singles game, with five players harnessing victories at the Yale Invitational and Sophomore Natasha Irani sending the Eagles into break with a win at the LSU Tiger Classic.
On Saturday, BC quickly proved that they had not lost its rhythm despite the winter hiatus. In fact, the Eagles came out swinging, immediately stealing the doubles point and eventually edging out the Big Green in every singles competition to arrive at a 5-0 victory.
First, freshmen-sophomore duo Laura Lopez and Yufei Long polished off an effortless 6-1 win over Dartmouth’s Jingyl Peng and Nicole Conrad. The Big Green (1-0) exhibited depth on the last court, however, with Allison McCann and Allison Chuang doubling up 6-3 on BC’s Irani and Elene Tsokilauri to put pressure on the Eagles’ (0-1) top pairing. Despite Dartmouth’s ability to keep the ball in play, Wilcox’s serving game and Urbinati’s consistent net play cinched the doubles point in a decisive 6-3 win over Abigail Chiu and Racquel Lyn, allowing the Eagles to take immediate control of the court.
The Big Green proved more competitive in singles competition, though, as the Eagles had to battle across the four courts. Irani was the only BC player to win with ease, shutting out Dartmouth’s Catherine Cable in both sets, 6-0, to clinch the Eagles’ second point. The rest of the court faced more adversity.
Long was the second singles player to tally a point for BC, struggling moderately against Lyn at the beginning of play, only to cruise to a 6-3 victory in the first set and a decisive 6-2 in the second. It was Wilcox who had her hands full, battling vigorously against Chiu, Dartmouth’s top seed.
The two traded points throughout the first set with Wilcox gaining a two-point advantage only for Chiu to come from behind to win the tie-breaker, claiming the first set. The second set began similarly until Wilcox started to gain rhythm just as the Eagles found themselves a point away from taking the match.
Dartmouth’s Conrad took Urbinati to three sets further down the court, and it soon became a competition to shut out The Big Green. Urbinati secured the victory with a flawless third, holding Conrad scoreless. It was then that Wilcox proceeded to double up on Chiu during the second set, increasing her level of play to clinch the third frame.
Ranked No. 53 in the Women’s ITA Division I rankings, this BC team still has much to prove in order to establish a presence going into conference play this February. With the ACC being one of the deepest women’s tennis conferences in the country—it boasts three teams ranked in the top five in the nation—the Eagles will need to become comfortable playing above their level of competition against schools like Dartmouth, a team that isn’t in the top 75 in national polls. Yet a win is a win, regardless of the opponent, and head coach Nigel Bentley’s team appears poised for a successful season should his players continue to put forth a strong cohesive effort while capitalizing on their strengths in doubles competition.
Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Senior Staff