Newitts and a New Coach

While the men’s team’s autumn season came to a close earlier, the Wheaton women’s tennis team competed in the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament on the weekend of Oct. 11. 

The tournament is the longest running women’s intercollegiate tennis tournament in the nation. It features a unique format in which schools register sets of two players to play in both a doubles match and two individual singles matches. The groups with the best win-loss record of that set move on. 

Wheaton sent seven players to the tournament this year from all class years. Given the nature of the tournament, first-year Katy Formicola ’23 teamed with a player from Brandeis University. 

A number of perennial Wheaton rival colleges were in attendance, including Babson, MIT, Brandeis, Trinity, Western New England University, Mount Holyoke, Smith and more. Smith and Mount Holyoke both hosted the event in order to accommodate the number of entrants. 

Senior Harley Swainston ’20 spoke to the level of competition in the region of late. 

“It’s still really high in the New England area. Lots of programs seem to be building up-Wheaton included-to be able to compete with some of the top-tier athletes these schools have.” Swainston ’20 made note of smaller schools such as Gordon College as one that has built itself up as of late. 

This all comes in a period of transition for the Lyons. Shortly before the season began, Head Coach Pauri Pandian announced his departure from Wheaton in order to accept another position at Brandeis. 

In his place, the Lyons have competed under interim Head Coach Jim Berrigan. Berrigan spent 15 years as head coach for Babson University and became the more successful coach in both men’s and women’s program history during his tenure. 

Swainston ’20 was quick to praise Berrigan for his work with the team during this trying period. 

“He was amazing,” she said. “We’re all really grateful that he stepped up in this tough transition. He’s super experienced and really sweet.” 

While incumbent assistant coach Avinash Ananth will return for the spring season in his current role, the Lyons are in the midst of their search for a new long-term head coach. Four candidates have been interviewed on-campus, and the program hopes to find someone to fill the role shortly.