Archive for March, 2009


Cats can’t quite sink the polar bears

This past Thursday the women’s team hosted the 12th ranked Bowdoin Polar Bears here at Bates. Bowdoin is one of the biggest rivals for every Bates team, so the women had a little extra pep in their step for this one and came out energized from the beginning. In front of a packed crowd of fellow students and parents, Merrill Gym resonated with cheers of “Go Cats” and “Right Here Bates” as all three doubles teams were up an early break. It certainly seemed to have caught the Bowdoin women off guard that the Cats had come out with such enthusiasm because they settled in and picked up their level of play. As the Polar Bears made strong comebacks at #1 and #2 doubles to get the win, #3 was where the Cats would shine. Getting out to an early 3-0 lead, Meg and Jean were showing how much confidence they had in their game with Meg’s aggressive volleys and Jean’s quick hands at net. The teams ended up even at 6-6, which is where the belief they had in themselves helped Meg and Jean pull out the last two games to give us our first point of the match.dsc00663


Being down by only one point to a top ranked team after the doubles let us know we could claw out the victory if we could just keep fighting. As Caryn and Alex were playing as hard as they could at #1 and #2, it didn’t seem to have much effect as their opponents were playing very solid tennis. Off of her great doubles play, Meg continued a high level of tennis throughout the match, losing in two close sets, 7-5, 6-4. Jean at the #6 spot played the best singles match of the day. She had a tough first set trying to find her groove and ended up losing it 6-4.  Then she got down 2-5 in the second set, which must have been right where she wanted her opponent because that is when she started her comeback. Finding the consistency and big forehand she had been missing throughout the match, Jean started to take it one point at a time and eventually won the last five games of the set to take it 7-5. The match tiebreak (first player to 10 points) was back and forth, as both women wanted the win after almost two hour of playing. It turned out it was Jean who wanted it more and she also played the big points with more poise as she clinched the match, winning the tiebreak 10-8.


Jean could have easily given up after being down 2-5 in the second, but that’s not in her character. Giving up is not something that’s in the character of any of the Cats. Jean kept playing every point as hard as she could and found a way to win, which is what we talk about as a team everyday. Don’t worry about the score, just play the ball as hard as you can and the score will take care of itself. Unfortunately, the score didn’t fall in our favor this time, but the improvements are obvious as everyone continues to play better each week. As long as every Cat competes with the heart Jean did on Thursday, there is no telling how far this team can go. 



brandeis slides past women’s team

After a tough, but solid win by the men’s team, it was time for the women to take to the slick Brandeis courts. The women had seen how fast the ball was coming off the courts during the men’s match, but it is different playing and having to make adjustments. It took a few games for the #1 doubles team of Alex and Caryn to adjust, as they got down a break early. They did a great job of fighting back and trying to find a rhythm, but after getting the score to 5-5 their opponents picked up the level of play and were able to capture the match. At #3 doubles, Meg and fellow freshman Elizabeth had great energy in their first match playing together. Many of the games were close, but the young women couldn’t find a way to get the big points to go their way against their more seasoned opponents. As both #1 and #3 doubles were finishing, Erika and Brooke were locked in a battled at #2 doubles. Both the Bates and Brandeis women played at a high level and refused to even give an inch as they entered into a tiebreak. Erika and Brooke got up early 3-1, but then the Brandeis women came storming back. After holding off one match point, Brandies won the tiebreak 7-4 to take a 3-0 match lead.


As singles started, like usual Caryn was playing one of the top women from the region. It was obvious her opponent felt more comfortable on her home courts, as almost every rally ended with a winner by one of the women. At #2 singles, Alex was playing a tough opponent in Gabrielle Helfgott, but hit great shots in key moments to win the first set 6-4. In the second, like most strong players, Gabrielle picked up her play and forced it to a deciding third set match tiebreak. In tiebreakers like this it is all about finding a way to win, and competing harder than your opponent. This was something we talked about as a team all week, competing to the max on every ball. Alex exemplified exactly what we had been working on. She did whatever it took to get one more ball back in play, and won 10-4 in the third. She showed great leadership to the young women on this team by the way she competed and continued to keep her composure in a pressure situation.


Even though losses are never fun, as long as we learn from them they can be beneficial. We played great against Middlebury, but couldn’t find a way to win a match. Once again, the ladies played extremely hard, and this time we got at least one victory. It may not seem like much, but it shows we are making positive steps. The Cats hoped to continue taking steps forward on Thursday against Bowdoin in Merrill Gym at Bates. 



men wrap up perfect weekend

The men’s team had two matches last weekend, starting with a tidy win against the University of Southern Maine here at Bates last Friday afternoon. The guys lost a total of five games on their way to a 9-0 victory. The next morning it was time to head south on I-95 once again to play Brandeis University. Brandeis is not an easy place to play, as the Bobcats found out two years ago when they left with a loss. The slick courts there usually give the home team an advantage because of how fast the ball travels on them, but this time the Cats were ready for it.


Breaks are not easy to come by during the doubles on a surface that allows for such fast serves, but somehow the #2 team of Ryan and Max were able to get several on their way to a speedy win of 8-1. Stein and Amrit got the one break they needed early and followed it up with strong holds to win 8-6. Even though it took Fenno and Jeff a while to catch up to the serves, they continued to serve well and finally found the shots on the return to earn an 8-4 victory. The biggest game of the match was during Jeff’s second service game. The guys came back from 15-40 with big serves from Jeff and aggressive net play from Zach, finally pulling it out after several deuces. This kept them on serve and the ended up getting the first break a couple games later. It always feels good to be up 3-0 after the doubles, but the guys knew the singles would not be easy, so keeping the intensity up was a huge part of the speech before singles.

dsc00630Stein, playing in front of a large Bates crowd thanks to all the parents and family who traveled to see the Cats play, frustrated his opponent by moving him all over the court. Ben’s serve was really hopping which allowed him to get into net and put away the point with his strong volleys. While Stein was dispatching his opponent rather quickly, both Max and Amrit were locked in tight first sets. Max came through to show his grit at just the right time when he was down 4-5 with his opponent serving for the set. He found a way to get the break, then hold serve, then break again to win the first 7-5. His opponent was never really able to regroup, and Max won the second 6-1. That match clinched the victory for the Cats, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the way Amrit was battling on court 2. Amrit won a closely contested first set in a tiebreak, but to his opponent’s credit, the second set was just as tough. A few shots didn’t go his way and Amrit ended up losing the second 7-5 as most of the Brandeis cheered on. As we all expected, Amrit’s experience and mental strength came through as he recovered to dominate the match tiebreak, 10-4.


Ryan and Reiss were on court and could hear the cheers of Amrits win, giving them even more energy to find a way for their own victory. Ryan came out of the gate on fire, barely giving his opponent time to hit the ball in the first set, winning it 6-0. In the second, he cooled off somewhat, but still hit the big shots on the big points to get the second, 6-4. Even though he didn’t plan on it, Reiss gave us the most entertaining match tiebreak many of us can remember. After winning the first easily and losing the second 7-5, it came down to the match tiebreak, with the winner being the person to reach 10 points first. Reiss did a great job of handling the nerves and held off two match points on his way to a 15-13 victory. This meant the Cats would head back to Bates without having lost a match all weekend. For a coach, this was the exact response we needed after a tough loss last week at Middlebury. The guys look forward to getting back on court at Tufts on Friday afternoon at 3pm. We hope to see just as many fans there as we had at Brandeis.


Fan of the match

Something we are continuing to do here on the blog is award the “Fan of the Match” for every home match. Here are the fans who did a great job supporting the Cats in the last three matches. 


Men’s Match vs Babson- Jeff’s dad, Mr. Beaton


Men’s Match vs Southern Maine- Sophomore Morgan Lynch


Men’s and Women’s Match at Brandeis- Senior Meredith Miller

Thanks to all the fans who have been coming out to support the teams, we look forward to seeing you at the next home match, Thursday, the women play Bowdoin at 4pm in Merrill.


meet the bobcats-max berger


Here is the interview with junior Max Berger:

1.  Where are you from and what high school did you go to?

Concord, New Hampshire. Concord High School.

2.  What is your favorite Commons meal?

Appetizer: Italian Wedding Soup. Main Course: string beans and tofu, cheesesteak,
focaccia chicken. Dessert: strawberry shortcake with vanilla soft serve.

3.  What is the best class you are taking this semester and why?

Chinese 402 because it makes my Chinese proficiency decrease at a slower rate than if
I wasn’t taking it.

4.  What is your favorite tennis team moment from this year?

Any one of the numerous post practice/match dinners we have together.

5.  What is the song getting the most playing time on your ipod?

Ting Mama de Hua by Jay Chou.

6.  Red Sox or Yankees?

Yankees. Yes I am from New Hampshire. My Dad is a New Yorker, he raised me that way.

7.  What brand of toothpaste do you use?

I usually use crest, but right now I am using organic aloe vera gel toothpaste.

8.  Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Somewhere in Europe.

9.  How much time do you spend on Facebook every day?

Too long.

10.  Would you ever go skydiving, why or why not?

I already went skydiving during the summer of 2001. I did it because I knew it would
be a posed question in Meet the Bobcats in March of 2009.


meet the bobcats-charlotte matlack


Here is the interview with freshman Charlotte Matlack:

1.  Where are you from and what high school did you go to?

I’m from Villanova, PA and I went to Harriton High School.

2.  What is your favorite Commons meal?


3.  What is the best class you are taking this semester and why?

My best class would have to be Colonial North America. Our professor dresses up,

occasionally, in period clothing and does all the neat voices–greatest class ever.

4.  What is your favorite Tennis team moment from this year?

When the guys and girls played mixed doubles in Tampa.  The amount of energy and
school spirit was absolutely insane.  It was, by far, the most memorable hour of tennis
I’ve ever had in my life.

5.  What is the song getting the most playing time on your ipod?

Drops of Jupiter, by Train

6.   Red Sox or Yankees?


7.  What brand of toothpaste do you use?


8.  Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Montana or Colorado.

9.  How much time do you spend on Facebook every day?

Too much.

10.  Would you ever go skydiving, why or why not?

Nope. Not a fan of heights.


NESCAC Opener a tough one

As the team boarded the bus behind Merrill Gym on Saturday afternoon, they knew the trip was going to be a tough one. Traveling the 5 hour bus ride through the snow melted mountains to Middlebury twice in 24 hours was one of our longest of the season, and the teams we faced had no intention of being hospitable when we arrived. We got to the hotel a little late, but it wasn’t too late to see Elizabeth’s beloved Louisville Cardinals clinch the Big East Championship. After that, it was straight to bed, the road ahead of them on the court would be much longer than the one they had just traveled.


The men were first, facing the #4 ranked team in the country. But before making our way to the courts, we had to stop at one of the best breakfast places in New England, the Middlebury Bagel & Deli. It’s a great way to start the morning, serving unbelievable bagel sandwiches and homemade donuts. Like always, getting the advantage early in doubles is key to success in a match between evenly matched teams. Unfortunately, today the breaks did not go the way of the Cats. Playing on their fast, home courts, Middlebury served huge which led to easy put away volleys. The Cats scrapped their way to holds of serve, but could not get a beat on the bombs the Panthers were throwing their way, and we eventually went down 3-0 after the doubles.


The singles matches would turn out much like the doubles, with the Panthers playing too strong for the Cats. Max played the best and closest match at the #3 position against Andrew Lee, a childhood friend. There was some great shot making, but Middlebury served his way out of numerous break points. This win helped the Panthers defend their home court with a team score of 9-0. Obviously, the outcome was not what we wanted, but this was a match that will help us better prepare for the other top 10 teams we have on the schedule.


The women took the court in the afternoon after the men’s match was complete. Playing the #13 ranked team in the nation, this would be a good learning experience for the young Cats. It has been great to see the improvement of the team from week to week, from Tampa to MIT to Mt. Holyoke, we would again see the strides these young women are making. This was by far the best tennis the women have played this season, even though it ended in defeat. We moved great and attacked the net aggressively in doubles, proving that the early morning Texas doubles drills are helping us further our doubles play. It just happened the more experience Panthers came up with great shots on the big points when they needed them to get the early 3-0 lead.


With Caryn, Alex, Meg, and Erika taking the court first we knew we would have our chances to get ourselves back in the match. Caryn played some of the best points of the day, both for men and women, against one of the most coveted recruits from last year. This was an outstanding baseline battle, with great depth and angles being hit by both players. On court 2, Alex’s exceptional athleticism was on display as she continued to run down ball after ball, forcing her opponent to hit one more shot to win the point. She attacked the net with unbelievable first volleys and put aways. She even went “diving” through the air for one stretch volley, only to have her opponent barely reach and push it into the open court. Meg also showed why she was a top recruit from last year’s class, hitting some huge shots. Many times scrambling from side to side while making her opponent do the same, she was just a few points away from taking the first. Her match was very similar to the doubles, she had her opportunities, but her opponent came up big on the important points. Meg has already had some great wins for us this season, but this was by far her best match.


All the way down on court 4 was the best match of the day played inside Panther Pavilion between Erika and Alyssa Puccinelli. Both women were ripping winners from all parts of the court, many times Erika going behind her opponent with a strong flat ball that could not be chased down. The first set was extremely competitive, with Alyssa coming out on top. The second set would see much of the same level of tennis the first had, only it was Erika finding a way to push the match to a third and deciding set. In the third Erika would just not let up, even being down a break she broke right back to make it 4-3. The two women would continue to hold serve through long games until Erika was serving at 5-6. After holding off one match point, Erika’s forehand sailed long giving Middlebury the victory. It wasn’t just the level of play and score that made this the best match of the day, it was the way Erika played. She exemplified the way all the women competed during the match, playing with no fear, confidence in her shots, and a will to play every point to its fullest.


A loss is never easy to take, but this one taught our team several great lessons. We know we can play with the best teams in the country. We know the practice we are putting in is paying off, and the hard work will continue to make us better. And we know to trust our shots because having confidence is the only way we will reach our goals for the season. 


men pass test at MIt










It was the men’s turn to travel to Boston on March 6th to take on MIT. The bubble was a little friendlier for the men than it was for the women, with the Cat’s getting the victory 7-2. We started off strong in the doubles, with wins from #2 and #3. Jeff and Fenno at #3 played exceptional and never really let their opponents in the match, winning 8-5. It was a little tougher for Max and Ryan at #2, taking it 8-6. It was a back and forth contest, with the guys staying mentally tough when serving it out at 7-6. Even though we were up 2-1 after the doubles, the focus of the singles was to play every ball, every point as hard as we could and the score would take care of itself. We could only control the effort, not the outcome. Fortunately the score went in our favor.










Ben and Amrit, playing #1 and #2 respectively, had some big hitters ahead of them. Both weathered early breaks of serve and came back to win the first set. While they were battling it out in long first sets, Max and Reiss were frustrating their opponents. Max did it through steady play, retrieving big shots from his opponent time and time again until the Engineer finally made an error. Reiss took it to his opponent by ripping winners from all angles of the court, both inside out and down the line. Once Stein and Amrit got rolling, the second sets were a little bit easier, with both guys coming off with convincing victories.










The match had already been decided when Ryan stepped on the court, but no one must have told him. He played his best tennis of the short season, winning 1,1. I’m not sure if he was impressed with his shot making, but the rest of his teammates were. After waiting over an hour, it was Fenno’s turn to take the court at #6. The first set was extremely competitive, with some great points. Eventually they headed into a tiebreak, with Fenno coming within inches of winning it. After the first set, Fenno’s opponent was on fire, and played outstanding tennis. Even being down 5-0 in the second, Zach continued to fight for every point, just like we talked about a few hours before. Even though he lost, Zach made the biggest impact of the match. He showed what kind of personality this team is going to have all season, one that never gives up and will work harder than the opponent on every point. The Cat’s were back on the court at home this past Thursday against Babson, then on the road to play NESCAC rival Middlebury on Sunday. 



women open home season with convincing win


The women got back on winning track this past Saturday against Mt. Holyoke. They started it off with great doubles, winning all three. Then on to singles, where Caryn once again played solid tennis, winning 6-4, 6-1. Alex showed the toughness we all expect out of her coming back from down 5-0 in the second set to win it in a tiebreak. She held off several match points in a great set of tennis at #2 singles. Unfortunately, she ran out of gas in the third after expending so much energy in the second. Meg fought past a tough opponent to win a long three setter that clinched the match for the Cats. Brooke was on and off the court in no time, winning 6-1, 6-3. Erika didn’t want to let her doubles partner show her up, winning her match 6-1, 6-0. As the rest of the team watched on, Jean played well enough to win the first set against a very solid opponent, then picked up her level of play and finished it with a great second set. Overall, it was a solid performance from the women. We have a tough week of practice ahead of us, but it should prepare us well to play one of the top teams in the nation on Sunday at Middlebury.


The Cats would like to thank all the parents who made it to campus for the match; it was great to have such an enthusiastic crowd. Also, something we will be doing here on the blog for home matches is “FAN OF THE MATCH.” The first recipient is senior Lexy Smith, who stayed through both the doubles and first round of singles matches. 


Women visit MIT


After a great trip to Florida and a strong week of practice, the women traveled to Boston to face MIT. The Engineers are one of the top teams in the Northeast region and have the third ranked female in the region as well. The Cats knew this would be a tough test but were looking forward to getting back to D3 competition. Although we entered the MIT bubble as the visitors on Saturday morning, we still had strong support from several parents and alums, which always makes us feel more comfortable when away from Bates.


We started off with doubles, Caryn and Alex at #1, Erika and Brooke at #2, and Meg and Jean at #3. While our #1 and #3 teams fought hard after getting down early, Brooke and Erika were able to get up a break at the beginning of the match against their opponents. Continuing to play aggressive and confident doubles, they were able to get us our first point. Even though we lost two of the doubles matches, all the teams did exactly what we had practiced on during the week. Each pair played the ball cross court until they could put it away through the middle and the net man constantly moved their feet in hopes of crossing to volley the ball away.



The first four singles matches went on after the doubles, with Caryn playing very well against her tough opponent. She had the lead in the second set, but her opponent picked up her level of play and was able to find a way to pull out the match. Alex at #2 was striking the ball well but ran into a girl who was in top form and was just never able to get anything going until late in the match. Meg played the best tennis of her short season, but couldn’t find a way to get past the strong defensive lobs of her opponent. Brooke, playing at #4, showed true determination to do whatever it took to frustrate her opponent through a long 3 set match. After losing the first set, she dominated with short chips and great variety in the second. In the third set, where conditioning and mental strength play a huge part in winning and losing, Brooke was ready for the moment and got the Cats’ their second point of the match. Erika and Jean, who had to wait over an hour to get on court, competed hard even though the team match had already been decided shortly after they started. It’s not always easy to stay motivated, but both played as if their outcome decided whether the team won or lost.serve


The Cats were able to quickly smile again after the loss, as it was time to celebrate Meg’s birthday. Meg’s parents were nice enough to bring lunch and cake for the team, which was happily accepted after a 4 hour match. Even though it’s never fun to lose, the team was able to learn a lot from the MIT match. Everyone is already playing much better than they were in fall. We were in every match against a solid team, and if we can find a way to win a few more points at big moments, the match could have been different. The women are excited to get back on the court for practice this week in preparation for the first home match on Saturday against Mt. Holyoke.


March 2009


Bates Tennis Blog