Women’s tennis team fights back into running for championship


After a nail-biting 5-4 loss to Westminster College on Saturday, the Franciscan University women’s tennis team put their campaign for a second-straight AMCC Championship back on track, via a decisive 9-0 win against conference opponent Penn St.-Altoona on Monday.

Windy conditions tested both teams as doubles play commenced, just after 1 p.m. Seemingly resuming from where they left off against Westminster, No. 1 doubles duo Madelyn Conrad and Maria Binette never wavered during an 8-0 victory on court one. The sophomore-junior tandem kept points short, finished at the net and broke serve early and often during the win.

Head Coach Scott Greve elected to alter the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles lineup for the match, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Junior pair Julia Razook and Taranee Karimpour were the picture of consistency at their 8-2 No. 2 doubles win, especially at the net. Their Altoona counterparts never found an answer for penetrative volleys.

Photo by Walter Matt

After senior captain Emmy Mathias and sophomore Gracie Hammel overwhelmed their opponent’s with a combination of groundstroke velocity and service consistency for an 8-6 victory, the Lady Barons took the courts for singles play, already up 3-0.

At No. 1 singles, Conrad capitalized on an immediate break of serve to accrue a 2-0 lead. She kept her points quick, dictating her will from the baseline, never allowing her opponent to find consistent footing. A 6-3 first set was quickly followed by a 6-0 second, as more deep ground strokes and punctual volleys put the match away.

Two courts to her left, Razook anchored the No. 4 singles spot, forcing her opponent to hit off-balance shots and finishing points on her own terms. The junior has effectively returned to form after a hiatus in Austria, as evidenced by her dominant 6-0, 6-0 win.

No. 6 singles was a constant battle that ultimately went Franciscan’s way. Seeing her first action of the season, senior Marisa Pinto retook the momentum down 2-1, to take a 3-2 lead, keeping her rallies shorter and dictating points from behind the baseline. Down 5-6, Pinto brought the first set to a tiebreaker, a contest she won 7-2. Her 7-6 first set opened the match wide open, and Pinto registered a much quicker 6-0 second set for the win.

Mathias ran her opponent from sideline to sideline at No. 5 singles. She demonstrated a willingness to finish rallies at the net and made her opponent fight for every point. Mathias’ 6-4, 6-3 victory was a testament to her ability to outlast opponents.

At No. 2 singles, Binette continued to show improvement over a successful sophomore campaign. She sent topspin-laden ground strokes deep into her opponent’s backcourt, taking advantage of short returns to rush the net. Maria was all over the court during her 6-1, 6-4 win, despite brief service inconsistencies at 5-2 in the second set.

Hammel fought both groundstroke consistency and a solid opponent at No. 3 singles. Down 4-1 in the first set, the sophomore found her footing, and rattled off five straight games to take the set 6-4. Serving first in the second, she fought off high backhands and rode strong service games to a 6-3 set win and a match victory.

The dominant 9-0 win against a quality conference opponent seems to be an indication of great things to come for the Lady Barons. After two crucial away matches against La Roche and Pitt.-Greensburg, respectively, the Franciscan women’s tennis team will take to its home courts again on Tuesday, September 12, at 4 p.m. against Allegheny College.

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