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Women’s tennis gets back on its feet following slow start

April 21, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
SERVES YOU RIGHT: Jamilah Karah ’25 and Cara Hung ’26 go to high five. Karah and Hung are Bowdoin’s number one doubles team. The women’s tennis team plays the final three games of its regular season on the road this weekend against MIT, Trinity College and Connecticut College. The Polar Bears are currently seeded seventh in the NESCAC.

The women’s tennis team (3–9; 3–5 NESCAC) rebounded from two weekend losses against Williams College (10–4; 6–2 NESCAC) and Middlebury College (10–2; 7–1 NESCAC) to defeat Colby College (4–10; 1–7 NESCAC) 6–3 on Wednesday. Over the next three days, the Polar Bears will play their final matches of the regular season against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; 12–3), Trinity College (7–7; 2–6 NESCAC) and Connecticut College (Conn; 7–8; 0–8 NESCAC).

The Polar Bears had a rough start to the season, facing many highly-ranked opponents on their spring break trip to California and jumping right into conference play upon their return.

Bowdoin has been trying to develop consistency in its play. In its 9–0 victory against Bates College (5–11; 1–9 NESCAC) last week, Bowdoin swept in doubles play, but against Colby this past weekend, Bowdoin did not win a doubles match. Instead, the Polar Bears put up six singles wins. However, Head Coach Ben Lamanna is confident about how the team’s doubles pairs are progressing.

“We’ve got our number one team, Jamilah [Karah ’25] and Cara [Hung ’26] … who are one of the best teams in the country,” Lamanna said. “We’re aggressive, we run exciting plays, we take it to our team, put pressure on them and apply pressure all the time. That attitude pays off over the course of time.”

The Polar Bears’ success in doubles was not immediate and came after significant midseason line-up changes. Specifically, Hannah Buckhout ’24 and Elizabeth Yu ’24, who had been partners for the entirety of last season, were separated into new doubles teams. Now, Buckhout plays with Kennedi Carter ’23 on the second doubles team.

“People were hesitant to break the two of us up, but we were losing on the second doubles team, and we were also losing on the third doubles team,” Buckhout said. “So switching those partners I think was huge. After [Carter] and I won our first match, that was such a confidence builder for us.”

The Polar Bears have met more significant challenges in the singles matches. Singles matches are often more slow-paced than doubles matches, resulting in longer rallies, which is why the team is working on maintaining its concentration throughout the duration of the matches.

“I think we have a little bit of a problem with front running … when you go up, it puts more pressure on you. I think we need to keep that same locked-in, focused energy that we would have if we were down 0–3 than if we’re up 2–1,” Buckhout said.

Hung believes this shift in mindset has improved the team’s singles play.

“As the season has been progressing, I’ve been seeing improvement in all of my teammates in terms of grinding out the points, lasting longer on the court, seeing the court better and hitting our shots more accurately,” Hung said.

The hard work paid off against Bates last week.

“Playing against Bates … I think we were starting to see the fruits of our labor,” Hung said. “We were grinding out the points longer and making them fight to win each point.”

Going forward, the Polar Bears want to build their confidence when facing tougher opponents.

“Williams and Middlebury had the added confidence of beating us last year, [and] tennis is such a game about mindset,” Buckhout said. “But we know that we’re on par with them.”

Bowdoin is focusing on maintaining a positive attitude through its last few games of the regular season.

“I think the team’s mindset approaching the next matches is that we’re ready, we’re hungry, we believe that we can take these matches,” Hung said. “They’re tough opponents, [but] we are ready.”

The Polar Bears will play MIT this afternoon in Cambridge, Mass. before facing off against Trinity tomorrow morning and Conn on Sunday. NESCAC playoffs begin next weekend, and while final seeding is still to be determined, Bowdoin is currently ranked seventh in the conference.


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