The College of William and Mary’s (10-12, 2-3 CAA) season came to an abrupt end in the semifinal round of the CAA tournament Saturday when the Tribe fell 4-1 to Virginia Commonwealth University (18-9, 3-2 CAA) in Norfolk, Va.
The loss meant that the College will not advance to the final round of the CAA tournament for the first time in the league’s 24-year history, and that the Tribe will not compete as a team in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.
“It’s tough to describe my current emotion because it is so mixed — a lot of disappointment,” Head Coach Meredith Geiger-Walton said. “To me, William and Mary’s women’s tennis is [a program] that always represents a high skill level, a lot of character, a lot of classiness. When some of those elements are not coming together and when they are expected to come together on a consistent basis [and do not], that is probably the overall disappointment.”
The College’s lone point came from the racket of junior Carmen Pop. Pop dismantled Alexa Bara 6-3, 6-2 in the fastest singles match of the day. Bara entered the match having beaten Pop on two separate occasions this season,
“I lost to her in the fall 7-5, 7-5 and then I lost to her two weeks ago,” Pop said. “I got my butt kicked 6-2, 6-1… it’s pretty sweet to have a nice win at CAAs, but unfortunately it didn’t help our team win. I was attacking the ball and going for it. Last time I played a little too defensively and this time I just took it to her and played my game and it worked.”
The Tribe’s 43rd-ranked doubles team of senior Katarina Zoricic and junior Ragini Acharya muscled their way to an 8-4 victory. Acharya played aggressively at the net, while Zoricic was solid from the baseline.
After forfeiting the third doubles slot due to injury, the College fell 8-5 in second doubles. Pop and senior Klauydna Kasztelaniec found themselves quickly down 6-1 before registering wins in four of the next five games. The comeback would not continue, however, and the Rams pulled out the victory and the doubles point.
“[Pop and Kasztelaniec had] a lot of unusual errors that you wouldn’t expect especially at this point in the season,” Geiger-Walton said. “[There was] just not enough of wanting the ball [and] too much of waiting to see what happens. They started to [make a comeback], but it was too late.”
Acharya, Zoricic and senior Barbara Zidek fell in singles matches as freshman Katie Kargl and Kasztelaniec did not finish, since the match’s result had been decided.
In the top spot, Zoricic could not muster the victory after taking the first set 6-4. The senior dropped her next two sets 2-6, 1-6, clearly hindered by a foot injury.
“[My foot] just gets progressively worse,” Zoricic said. “The longer I play, which usually seems to be the case, unfortunately it gets really bad. [VCU’s Ana Bara] was trying to keep as many balls in the court just to make me run as much as possible. That definitely worked in her favor.”
Zoricic ends her singles career at the College with a 97-50 record.
“She is a gutsy player,” Geiger-Walton said. “She is kind of a no pain, no gain type of player. I wish some of that could have spread [to some of her teammates] because she will endure pain and she will find every way that she can to win.”
The Tribe defeated the University of Delaware Friday in the CAA quarterfinals 4-0. Zoricic broke the school wins record in career doubles victories with her 126th win.
However, the win provided little consolation to Geiger-Walton.
“The William and Mary tennis program always represents [a player with] a type of character about them that they go on the court, they own it, they go after it,” she said. “We just didn’t have enough of that arrogance this year.”
Acharya and Zoricic entered the CAA tournament as the top-ranked doubles pair in the conference and made it through the competition without a loss. The duo should earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Selections will be announced April 29.