The Knights circled up before they took on Sage College last Wednesday. (Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary College

by Jon Geissler

The Mount Saint Mary College Women’s Tennis team defeated The Sage Colleges 7-2 on Wednesday to extend their unbeaten streak to nine. The home match drew dozens to the bleachers on the crisp October evening as the Knights improved to a 9-0 overall record and 5-0 in the Skyline Conference.

The Knights led 2-1 at the close of the doubles competition on the night. Freshmen Morgan Holbrook and Ashlynne O’Brien combined for an 8-1 doubles win, while team captain Jillian Torre and freshman Breanna Scott paired up for an 8-1 victory.

Later in the night, O’Brien came away with a 6-3, 6-4 singles triumph while Scott prevailed 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Torre came away with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 win and Senior Jill Saydlowski claimed a 6-2, 6-1 victory. Holbrook provided the most exciting win, pulling out a third set tiebreak. After losing the first set, the rookie rallied to win the second set, 6-0. She went on to take the match tiebreaker, 10-6.

It was yet another impressive victory by the home team that drew plaudits from Knights head coach Lauren Holzberg following the match. “The team played very cohesively. They all worked very well together and fought for every point,” she said.

As the team awaited their final conference match against Polytechnic Institute of New York University on Saturday (9-0), Coach Holzberg reflected on what has been the team’s most successful season in recent years.

Senior Gabriela Murphy Goldberg (Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary College)

“We’re undefeated, but we still have a lot of work to do in our conference tournament [this] week.” she said. “The team has worked very hard preparing for all the matches. We have played well against some excellent teams in and out of conference.” In particular, she has noticed considerable improvement in doubles play as well as the players’ footwork and quickness.

Much of the success this season is also attributed to the team chemistry that exists both on and off the courts. Captain Jillian Torre has been an integral part of this close bond created between the girls. “Jillian is our very dedicated captain. She is hardworking and such an integral part of the team,” said Holzberg.

Torre reiterated her coach that there is much to be satisfied with this season. “I’m proud of [the undefeated streak]. I think that we have a really good team this year. “We have been really consistent this season. Our team is united as one and we get along very well. We’ve always been undefeated in our conference matches, but it’s a great feeling to be undefeated in our non-conference matches as well, which is a first at my time at the Mount.”

Up next, the Knights prepare to host the semifinal match on Wednesday, and then hopefully the final on Saturday. Judging by this season’s success, Torre believes the team will win the Championship for the fourth year straight.  “They definitely won’t be easy matches, and they’ll definitely be close, and we can’t take them lightly, but I think we’re completely capable of winning again.”

If they do repeat, another trip to the NCAAs will be looming in May. While their previous three ended in first-round defeats, Torre has considered it a positive experience to play top quality tennis against upper-level teams. Added Coach Holzberg, “If we make it, we hope to play the best we can by pushing ourselves and each other.”

The future certainly looks promising for the Knights as they look to fulfill their potential and continue to improve. You can watch the girls’ semifinal match on Wednesday.