Section: Sports

Women’s tennis hits west coast for spring break matches

Women’s tennis hits west coast for spring break matches

Dakos | COURTESY OF SEAN GIBSON

The No. 18 Kenyon women’s tennis team faced off against a tough slate of competition during the Owls’ spring break trips to California and Virginia. Kenyon went 3-4 over spring break and has a 3-5 record overall.

While many students were already at the airport and headed to sunnier destinations, Kenyon welcomed Kalamazoo College (Mich.) to Gambier on March 1 and earned an 8-1 victory. The Owls made quick work of doubles play, winning each match 8-2. Kenyon’s dominance continued in singles. Shadia Amado Aguad ’26 kicked things off with a 6-0, 6-0 win in the No. 4 singles, and Eleni Dakos ’24 and Leni Lazaridou ’26 each won the No. 3 and 1 matches 6-0, 6-1. First-years Ana Brand ’27 and Madeline Chappars ’27 picked up wins in the No. 5 and 6 matches, respectively, to round out Kenyon’s wins. Kalamazoo’s only victory came in the No. 2 singles, where Allaire Berl ’26 retired.

The Owls then took flight for California to take on a slew of talented opponents. While the team has called Florida its spring break home in the past, Dakos described her excitement for the opportunity to travel to the Golden State in an email to the Collegian: “Going to California was a new experience for me and I know the rest of the team had a great time.” Amado Aguad appreciated the chance to spend time with the team in a new setting. “The chance to compete in a different environment brought a new perspective and challenges to the team, which were both exciting and motivating,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. For Berl, even the days without California sunshine were special: “Even on the rainy days where we couldn’t play, I had such a blast hanging out with the girls in the house and cooking and having dance parties in the kitchen,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Kenyon opened competition in California with a hardfought loss to No. 28 Chapman University (Calif.) on March 6. The Owls picked up their lone doubles win in the No. 1 match, as Amado Aguad and Lazaridou won 8-6. Down but not out, Kenyon clawed back in the singles matches. After Chapman took the No. 1 match, Dakos won a grueling No. 2 match 6-7, 6-0, 1-0 (10-8), and Amado Aguad cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 win in No. 3 singles. Brand’s 7-6, 6-4 victory in the No. 4 match gave the Owls a 3-1 lead in singles, but the Panthers took over in the No. 5 and 6 matches to win 5-4. Despite the loss, Dakos praised her team for taking valuable lessons from the match. “We faced a lot of adversity during both singles and doubles,” she said. “Even though we came up a bit short, we all played really well in the circumstances! Facing adversity makes us stronger as a team moving forward as we know how to deal with these types of situations better.”

After rainy weather forced cancellation and postponements, the Owls returned to the courts on March 8. Unfortunately, Kenyon’s match against No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) was all Athenas. Berl and Lazaridou earned a convincing 8-1 victory in No. 1 doubles, but that was the Owls’ only win of the day as Kenyon lost 8-1.

Kenyon got back into the swing of things two days later with a sweep of the Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) Cowgirls. After an early 3-0 lead thanks to dominance in doubles play, the Owls won in straight sets in every singles match. Berl credited Kenyon’s success to the team’s ability to understand tennis’ mental aspect: “Tennis is such a mental sport and many of the girls we play against do their best to get in their opponents heads, so it’s important to keep our heads up and focus on playing as consistent and hard as we do in practice,” she said.

The Owls wrapped up their stay in California on March 12 with a match against No. 14 Sewanee (Tenn.). Lalasa Nagireddy ’25 and Brand provided Kenyon’s lone doubles win with an 8-6 victory in the No. 3 match. The Tigers carried their momentum into singles play, but the Owls refused to go down without a fight. Lazaridou won the No. 1 match 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), and Amado Aguad picked up a comeback win in No. 3 singles, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6). Unfortunately, Sewanee picked up wins in the rest of the singles matches to win 6-3.  

With the team’s time out west at its conclusion, Amado Aguad saw the trip as an important chance for the team to grow: “Everyone gained insights into their game and identified areas for improvement. This experience will let us grow and will contribute to better performance in future matches.”

Kenyon ended its spring break slate with a pair of matches against ranked opponents in Fredericksburg, Virginia. On Saturday, the Owls beat the No. 26 University of Mary Washington (Va.) Eagles 8-1. After Lazaridou and Berl fell in the No. 1 doubles match, it was smooth sailing for Kenyon. Dakos and Amado Aguad and Nagireddy and Brand both won 8-5 in the No. 2 and 3 doubles matches, respectively. With a 2-1 lead already in hand, the Owls swept the singles matches.

The next day, Kenyon took on No. 20 Tufts University (Mass.). After dropping the No. 2 doubles match to open competition, Lazaridou and Berl won the No. 1 match 8-7 (7-3), and Nagireddy and Brand gave the Owls a 2-1 lead after an 8-5 win in No. 3 doubles. The Jumbos mounted a comeback in singles play, winning the No. 4 and 2 matches to take a 3-2 lead. Lazaridou tied things up with a 7-5, 7-5 win in No. 1 singles, and, after Tufts claimed the No. 5 match, Amado Aguad won 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the No. 3 spot. With the match on the line, Nagireddy overcame an early deficit in the No. 6 match but fell just short, 4-6, 7-5, 5-7.

Though Kenyon was unlucky on St. Patrick’s Day, Berl was proud of the team’s effort despite poor weather. “The conditions were super rough; it was an extremely windy day, but we managed to cheer each other on and do our best to fight through the wind,” she said. 

The Owls will return to the courts on Sunday, when Kenyon will take on Otterbein University and Earlham College (Ind.) in the Jasper Tennis Invitation. With conference play starting up in April, the Owls are focused on the chance to defend their NCAC title. “I would love to win the conference tournament, which I know we can do,” Dakos said. “We are a very strong team this year and I hope that we can make it far in the NCAA tournament at the end of the season.”

0 Comments

Comments are subject to review and moderation. We won't publish your email address or send you unsolicited emails.