The weekend after the Bowdoin women’s tennis team (12-5, 5-3 NESCAC) defeated Williams (16-3, 6-1 NESCAC) for the first time in the program’s history, the Polar Bears lost 7-2 to Tufts (11-6, 5-4 NESCAC) on Saturday. This marked the first loss to the Jumbos in the past four years. 

“It’s hard to say exactly what happened, but we came out flat,” said Sam Stalder ’17. “I think we were definitely riding the high of the Williams win, and we may have come out a little bit relaxed, not as focused.”

Captain Tiffany Cheng ’16 attributed the loss to the team not being fully present.

“We were definitely looking into NESCACs and Nationals, and we didn’t really mentally prepare ourselves to play Tufts and grind it out,” said Cheng. “We almost had too much pressure on ourselves from the weekend before. We just weren’t mentally prepared for the match.”

Stalder was one of the singles winners, joining Kyra Silitch ’17 in adding to the Polar Bears’ points. While pleased with her individual win, Stalder was quick to comment that she could have done more to help her team.

“I should have fired up my teammates more—gotten them going,” said Stalder. “I personally was doing well, but I didn’t do a great job spreading that fire.”

Heading into the NESCAC tournament first-round match against Wesleyan (10-4, 6-4 NESCAC) today hosted at Bates, Stalder remains confident despite the loss against Tufts. 
“I’m not worried, per se, but I also know that we have to play better than we did this past weekend. I know we can do that,” she said.

The Polar Bears beat the Cardinals 5-4 earlier this season in a tough series of matches.

“They’re a good enough team that every single match is pretty evenly matched in terms of talent and skill levels, so every person has to be playing to their capabilities to win,” said Stalder. “No one has an easy match.”

Cheng anticipates a fight from the top of Wesleyan’s ladder. 

“They have a tough lineup at the top, and it’s always been a battle,” said Cheng. 

“I think we’re definitely kicking ourselves in the butt right now for this past weekend—we’re not happy. We’re pretty pissed. I think that should motivate us going into this weekend,” said Stalder. “I don’t think we’ll let that happen again going into this weekend at NESCACs.”
In preparation for the matches, Cheng said the team has been working hard this week to be mentally prepared for the fight against Wesleyan and for the hopes of a match against Williams on Saturday.

“We do something called ‘Doubles Therapy’ where our doubles partners talk together before the matches,” said Cheng. “We do as much as we can, but ultimately, it comes down to each person and how much they really want it.”

The team’s NESCAC tournament draw to play Wesleyan this weekend was unaffected by its loss to Tufts. Looking forward, developing players have also improved over the course of the season, giving the team an additional boost heading into the weekend.

“I think we have the best possible draw that we could for NESCACs,” said Cheng. “We’ve beaten Wesleyan—it was close last time, but we’ve got players who have really upped their game and stepped it up the past couple of weeks...So the sooner we take care of business, we can play Williams, and we know we can beat them as well. We’re really excited and pumped up for this weekend.”

The team is trying to take each match one at a time heading into the weekend.

“We definitely learned from this past weekend how looking too far in advance can hurt us,” said Cheng. “Honestly, we’re just thinking point-by-point.”

Cheng hopes that her team will rally for the weekend, as she remembers how the team fell to Emory (23-5) in out-of-conference play just before coming back to win against Williams. 

“We were able to regroup and push forward against Williams, and I’m hopeful that will happen [again]. Unfortunately, it does take some losses to appreciate the wins,” said Cheng. “I think we’ll be ready for this weekend.”