Cougars Edge Sharks, 8-1

Cougars Edge Sharks, 8-1

Clark Women's tennis won a decisive 8-1 victory over Simmons College on Saturday, bringing their record back to even at 2-2. After two nail-biting loses earlier in the week, the team did not leave anything up to chance here, as team followed up two comeback doubles' wins with a clean sweep of singles. As Coach Dan Herbst said it best, "After two hard fought losses this week, I am thrilled with how the women persisted and fought today."

Oddly enough, the first match to end was actually the only match that Clark lost. At #3 doubles, senior captain Chloe Dunnell (Montclair, N.J.) and first year Megan Balani (Braintree, Mass.) nearly came all the way back from being down 1-5. In the end their comeback against Simmons' Lauren Frampton and Carrie St. Peter came up just short, with Clark losing 6-8. 

Next, Clark began their 8 unanswered points with a narrow win at #1 doubles. Clark's pair of senior captain Anna Gates (North Scituate, R.I.) and first year sensation Ellie Hodgkin (Manchester, Maine) traded games with Simmons' Sarah Mariski and Megan McKeever until they went to tiebreak at 7-7. In the tiebreak Hodgkin's had a beautiful backhand passing winner, and Gates had two net point winners that ultimately led Clark to a 7-4 tiebreak, and 8-7 overall win.

Finally, #2 doubles produced an enormous comeback for the Cougars. Junior captain Jillian Skulsky (Marshfield, Mass.) and fellow junior Elizabeth Tchantouridze (Northfield, Vt.) were down 1-5, when they went on a 4 game hot streak, and forced a 7-7 tiebreak of their own. Skulsky's controlled forehands and Tchantouridze's hustle and placement proved too much for Simmons, and Clark prevailed 7-5 in the tiebreak, and 8-7 overall, pushing the Cougars lead to 2-1 going into singles.

The first singles match to conclude was #2 singles, where Skulsky made quick work of Simmons' Mariski 6-2, 6-0. Skulsky's big day brings her singles record back to .500 for the year, as she continues to progress and make her presence known. When asked about herself and her team's big day, Skulsky replied, "After some close tough matches, today's score depicted the effort that the team has been putting in at practice. Everyone was focused and ready to go and it showed. We had a great showing in the doubles that let us walk into singles confident. Everyone played great today and should be proud."

The next singles match to conclude was #5 singles, where Balani was on fire, defeating Simmons' Sam Margolin 6-1, 6-0. Margolin simply did not have any answers for Balani slice, hard serves, and few unforced errors. With this win, Balani goes to 3-0 on the season in singles.

Tchantouridze made it four for four (four wins at #4 singles that is) Saturday, as she wore down Simmons' Mary Miller 6-0, 7-5. Using her powerful backhands and consistent deep balls, Tchantouridze simply had all the answers for Miller, and as a result, came out on top. 

At #3, Gates showed her consistency, as she outlasted Simmons' McKeever 6-1, 6-4. After a narrow loss earlier this week, Gates has fully regained her confidence with wins in her last two matches, and really got into a groove, and broke McKeever's serve on several occasions Saturday.

For the second straight game, at #1 Hodgkin won the first set, lost the next set, but the regained control to win the third set, and the match. Hodgkin improves to 3-1 at singles on the year, with her win over Simmons' Nickie Nyguyen 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.

Finally, at #6 singles, Clark junior Zahara Shidad (Lewiston, Maine) got her first career singles victory when she beat Simmons' Kaili Shorey 7-5, 6-2. Shidad was a brick wall on the court, returning every ball that came her way, and sprinkling in some smart net play and strong overheads as well.

The Cougars hope to capitalize on the energy from their big win when they host Holy Cross next Tuesday, the 24th.