When a team loses only one senior to graduation, it usually means that next year's group will be a veteran squad. But for the women's team tennis team, youth still prevails. Only three of Princeton's top players – senior Stephanie Alpert, junior Kerry Patterson and junior Olivia Streatfield – boast more than one year of experience.
After a tough season last year, Princeton hopes to build upon a strong fall season where the Tigers beat defending Ivy champs Brown, and contend for the league title.
"No one is picking us as the favorite," head coach Louise Gengler '75 said. "But I think that's to our advantage."
Middle of the pack
Last year, the Tigers finished 7-11 overall and 2-5 in the Ivy league – good enough for seventh.
This spring, all but one of the Tigers' top players return. Playing in the top spot will be sophomore Blair Farr. Farr played No. 1 for Princeton last year, and will be looking to improve on her 4-6 record in the fall.
Competing for the No. 2 seed are three players. Sophomore Jyotsna Vasisht played in the spot last year and did well, but suffered a groin pull two weeks ago. She is expected to back at full strength by spring break, when the Tigers travel to the west coast to play five matches in just 10 days.
Also vying for the position is Streatfield, who played at No. 2 in the fall, finishing with a 10-6 record, including wins over league rivals from Penn and Brown.
Sophomore Amanda Hastings-Phillips also has a strong chance at filling the second spot for Princeton. Hastings-Phillips played well last year as a freshman, working her way into the top six. At the end of last season, she had compiled a 16-5 record.
Last weekend, Hastings-Phillips advanced to the semifinals of the Princeton Invitational, which consisted of mostly one and two seeds from other teams.
Three capable players in the middle of the Tiger lineup should translate into strong seasons for Princeton's third and fourth seeds.
"Depth will be our strength," Gengler said. "We have four players who have competed at the A level."
Alpert, along with sophomore Lili Holodnak and freshmen Gailor Large and Anne Coates, will be competing for the fifth and sixth spots to round out the singles draw.
Doubles play takes on a more important role in women's collegiate tennis, as the matches account for three points. Thus, a team that is trailing 4-2 after the singles competition can sweep the doubles portion and win a match 5-4.
Patterson will team with Farr at the No. 1 doubles spot. Patterson and Farr did not play together in the fall. Instead, Patterson teamed with junior Jessica Improta. But Improta will not be playing this spring, as she is taking time off to concentrate on her studies.
In Patterson and Farr's first tournament together this year, the duo knocked off the top three seeds in winning the doubles title of the Princeton Invitational.
Vasisht and Streatfield will team again at No. 2 doubles. Last season, the duo went 7-4 overall and 4-0 in the Ivies. At third doubles will be Hastings-Phillips and Large.
While an Ivy League title is the goal for Princeton, the Tigers may be a year away from threatening for the top spot. Although Princeton didn't lose many players to graduation, neither did the rest of the league. This season may be one of the toughest in the Ivies in recent years.