On a Saturday in early September with the blazing afternoon sun still high in the sky, senior Alexandra Marlowe ’15 guided a rebuilding Lyons team to their first NEWMAC victory of the season against Mount Holyoke.
Despite losing a quartet of graduating seniors this fall, Marlowe and teammate Amanda Brazell ’17 were able to lead the charge early on, dominating their No. 1 and No. 2 opponents. In doubles, the duo blasted their way past Mount Holyoke’s Margaux Holloschutz and Ishita Tibrewal 9-8 (7-4). Marlowe and Brazell enjoyed even more success in the singles matches, beating Holloschutz and Tibrewal by identical blowout scores of 6-1, 6-2.
Wheaton’s lack of depth was highlighted in the middle singles rounds, but a No. 6 singles victory from Stassy Furber ’16 and a doubles win from Izzy Gorham ’16 and Caroline DiNicola-Fawley ’16 helped the Lyon’s squeak by Mount Holyoke 5-4.
“I think it was a match where we were able to gain some confidence early on in the season,” said Brazell. “We graduated 4 seniors and only gained one freshman, but despite this, everyone has really stepped up and tried to make the best of our rebuilding year.”
Riding the momentum, the Lyons secured mid-September victories against Springfield College (6-3) and Smith College (8-1). They then took their success to a new level versus Emerson College, losing only 2 games in the 9-0 victory. In No. 1 and No. 2 singles, Izzy Gorham ’16 and Caroline DiNicola-Fawley ’16 went undefeated, decimating their Lion opponents 6-0, 6-0.
But as their strength of schedule began to increase, victories became hard to come by. In the next three contests, Wheaton lost 44 of its 48 sets to the highly ranked Wellesley, MIT and Babson College. Alexandra Marlowe ’15 was the only player to win a match, defeating Babson’s Alex Freeman in No. 1 singles 6-4, 6-1.
Moving outside their normal NEWMAC opponents, Wheaton looked to turn things around against an undefeated Colby College team. Marlowe again came out swinging, handily defeating her No. 1 singles challenger, Erica Talamo, in two straight sets 6-1, 6-1. In addition, the usual Marlowe and Brazell duo was effective for the Lyons, as they combined for an 8-1 win in No. 1 doubles. Perhaps more important, Wheaton’s depth became a strength against Colby, as the Lyons coasted to four singles wins and went undefeated in doubles during the 7-2 victory.
Marlowe’s dominance against Colby and Babson earned her the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women’s Tennis Singles Player of the Week honors. She’s now won the award for her singles play three times, and won it for her doubles play seven times. If Wheaton is to secure their 14th straight NEWMAC tournament berth, it will likely be because Marlowe carried them there.
So far, Wheaton is 5-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play. In 2009 and 2010, the Lyons won back-to-back NEWMAC Championship titles, and the team hasn’t finished below .500 since 1997.
Their next home contest will be against Mount Holyoke on the 22nd of October.