This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.
Despite an early lead, the women’s tennis team fell to No. 2-seeded Saint Louis 4-2 Saturday in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championships.
GW jumped ahead early in the match, winning the doubles point. The No. 1-positioned duo of senior Isabella Escobar and freshman Taylor Nederlander won 8-6, while the No. 2-positioned team of sophomore Christina Carpenter and senior Leah Pascarella also clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 victory.
But in singles, the Colonials were outplayed by a superior Saint Louis team that entered Saturday’s match on a 10-match winning streak.
Nederlander at No. 3 and Carpenter at No. 6 both lost their matches in straight sets, while Robins at No. 1 and Escobar at No. 5 dropped their matches in three sets. Only Pascarella at the No. 2 slot was able to defeat her opponent for the Colonials (3-6, 6-4, 6-4).
“We weren’t overconfident. We knew that we won the doubles point last time, too, and this was going to be another battle,” head coach Greg Munoz said. ”Saint Louis played well. We didn’t back down. It was a fight to the very end, and anything could have happened.”
It was a solid year for the program, which finishes the season 9-6 overall. Pascarella, who played her last match as a Colonial on Saturday, said this year’s team was the best she has played with since she joined the program in 2010.
“Out of my four years, we had the most talent on this team,” Pascarella said, adding that she expects the young returning Colonials team to improve.
GW will face a series of challenges heading into the next season. It will return seven players – and none will be seniors. Plus, Munoz said the team will likely have a demanding regular season schedule.
But sophomore Lana Robins said the Colonials can handle these tests.
“[We’ll have] a good freshman class, an improved returning sophomore class and our juniors are really gonna have to step it up and be leaders,” Robins said.
Munoz said the team is moving in the right direction as he tries to “change the culture of the program.” The Colonials have their sights set on a conference title, and Munoz said the program will continue to develop until it reaches that goal.
“Until we’re a top-75 [team], there is going to be improvements to make” Munoz said. “It starts with the culture and the work ethic and discipline.”