Women’s tennis: Tribe opens season with win over Richmond

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

William and Mary cruised to a substantial victory over Richmond in its season opener Jan. 15. With this victory, the Tribe tacked on its 45th-straight win over the Spiders, making the all-time record between the rivals 46-1 in favor of the Tribe.

The College’s doubles team made a strong start right out of the gate, with junior Natalia Perry and freshman Mila Saric occupying the Tribe’s No. 3 doubles position and besting their Spider counterparts, partners Lyndell Giffeing and Helene Heiberg, in a 6-2 victory.

The Tribe’s top doubles team, junior Rosie Cheng and senior Clara Tanielian, clinched a closer 6-4 victory over Emily Dunbar and Kiana Marshall at the No. 1 spot, securing the doubles point for the College. Senior Lauren Goodman and junior Charlotte Madson completed the sweep with a 6-2 win over Lea Owens and Desi Zlateva at the No. 2 spot.

With the momentum of the day on its side, the Tribe continued to dominate in singles play. Saric secured a notable victory at the No. 6 spot. Saric didn’t drop a single game in two 6-0 victories over Richmond’s Ana Ramirez.

The battle between the top singles players for the Tribe and the Spiders was tougher, as Cheng, a 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, faced off against Emily Dunbar, a former Atlantic 10 Co-Performer of the Year. Ultimately, Cheng pulled out the win at the No. 1 spot, dropping only two games to Dunbar.

Indeed, the Tribe’s only loss of the day came from sophomore Vitoria Okuyama, who went down 6-2, 6-4 against Lea Owens of the Spiders. However, the Tribe remained unfazed, and Madson, Tanielian and Perry earned wins in their respective matches. The Tribe was led by its new head coach Toni Bickford, who took the reins of the program in September.

The ninth-straight victory at a home opener gave the Tribe an impressive 34-5 record in season-openers since 1981. The doubles teams will look to maintain the strong front they presented against the Spiders. These duos occupying the No. 1 and No. 3 spots hadn’t played a single collegiate match together before taking the court against Richmond.

Jan. 20, the Tribe will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to face off against Winthrop University, the reigning Big South champions. A competitive match is to be expected, with pressure on stand-outs like Cheng and Perry to lead the Tribe to victory.