Anchored by 3-0 singles performances from senior Danielle Abraham, junior Elizabeth Corrao and freshman walk-on Inayat Khosla, the Boston University women’s tennis team finished its fall season with a flourish this weekend at Dartmouth College’s Big Green Invitational in Hanover, N.H.
The Terriers won 15 of 21 singles matches in the hidden dual tournament featuring teams from Dartmouth, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Syracuse University and Temple University.
It was a strong performance, as the BU women finished the fall portion of its schedule the way coach Lesley Sheehan expected.
‘I think we have a strong team,’ Sheehan said. ‘My expectations for them were that we are one of the strongest teams there, so they should be finishing that way.’
Junior Francine Whu, last year’s America East Player of the Year, missed the tournament with a case of strep throat, and freshman Petra Santini sat out with a wrist injury. Down two players to injury and illness, Sheehan said she was pleased by the way her players responded when asked to perform in more difficult brackets.
‘Basically we had people playing higher than they might normally play, and they did very well,’ she said.
Khosla, making her first appearance in a BU uniform, played as the team’s seventh seed.
‘It was great to even have her in the lineup, because she wasn’t in the NCAA,’ Sheehan said. ‘She’s been a very nice surprise for us.’
Khosla came to BU from Chandigarh, India. Until this weekend, the walk-on had been ineligible for competition because she failed to apply for the NCAA Clearinghouse before graduating high school. Many international athletes are unaware of the clearance process, Sheehan said, and have to start it once they make the team before they can participate in NCAA events.
Corrao and Abraham were pushed into the fourth and sixth spots, respectively, and three of the four remaining BU singles competitors finished with winning records.
‘Liz [Corrao], I pushed her up a little bit and I was very pleased, and the same thing with Danielle [Abraham],’ Sheehan said.
Freshman Stefanie Nunic and seniors Cori Lefkowith and Yana Sadovskaya all finished with 2-1 records. Nunic competed as the team’s No. 1 seed, while Lefkowith narrowly missed going 3-0 after moving up as the team’s No. 2. Lefkowith won her first two matches before dropping the third against UMass’ Magdalena Ploch, 3-6, 7-5, 10-6.
Sophomore Vanessa Steiner struggled, finishing 0-3 as BU’s third seed. Sheehan expressed confidence that Steiner, who made last year’s America East First Team All-Conference team, would be ready for the spring.
‘Vanessa is a very strong player, so I don’t expect her to stay in this streak very long,’ Sheehan said. ‘I think she’ll get everything together.’
Unlike most tournaments, the structure of the doubles competition was such that partners could be changed on a match-to-match basis. While the absence of Whu and Santini made evaluating partnerships for the spring more difficult, Sheehan said she took the opportunity to experiment with different pairings.
Lefkowith and Abraham won their flight at the Yale Invitational over the Halloween weekend, but were not paired together at the Big Green. Instead, each played alongside three different partners in three doubles matches.
‘I’ve seen them play so much, I know what they can do,’ Sheehan said. ‘I know how they can play together and they do play well, so I just wanted to see them with different partners.’
The Terriers will use the next few months to continue building stamina and endurance for the start of the spring season, Sheehan said. Play resumes on Jan. 24 at Harvard University.