Phil Humber of the White Sox said of his no-hitter last weekend, “What took place was just awesome.” Now, it may be slightly impressive for a pitcher to blank his opponents in one game, but the Lady Knights’ tennis team did it this weekend for their ninth time this season.
The Knights dominated in their first MIAC match of the week against St. Thomas on Friday. Strong wins from #3-in-the-region Kathryn Schmidt ’12, #21 Bridget Doyle ’13, Molly Hemes ’14, and Katherine Greenberg ’14 at singles along with all-around 8-2 wins in doubles gave the Knights the upper hand against the Tommies from the start. Meanwhile, Erin Gudul ’12 suffered a tough but valiant loss 6-1, 6-4. Erin Wilson ’14 would battle to a third set victory 3-6, 6-3, 10-1 to top off the Knights at 8-1 for the team match score.
Rookie player, Wilson, was able to draw on the anxiety of the match to pull out her win saying, “There’s always an added intensity when you know the match counts for a point. I was a little nervous at first, but once I figured out the other girl’s weaknesses, I was able to get back into the swing of things and come back.”
This dual-sport player was also able to combine her lightning soccer speed with her ninja tennis skills adding, “Being a soccer player, I can get around the court pretty well so some of my favorite points are when you just barely get to the ball and they don’t expect you to get there but then you miraculously make it and get the ball back in play.”
The Knights put the ball back in play against another stalwart MIAC team not 24 hours later when they took on St. Benedict. In the indoor rainout location, the Knights were able to turn April showers into incredible superpowers as they slammed St. Ben’s 9-0. The #10 Schmidt/Gudul teaming and #15 Doyle/Anne Lombardi ’14 pairing nailed down 8-3 wins in doubles while sophomores Hemes and Greenberg took their win a game sooner at 8-2.
Senior captain Schmidt proceeded to carry out her usual 6-0, 6-0 win hardly breaking a sweat while Greenberg was only a few games behind in her singles match at 6-0, 6-2. Lombardi, despite a close first set, was able to analyze and eliminate her opponent 7-5, 6-1. Again, senior Gudul was met with a formidable opponent as she took down her Blazer foe 6-1, 2-6, 10-6 in a third-set tiebreaker. During these three sets, the powerhouse sophomore, Hemes, might have completed three matches as she handily broke her opponent’s mind, body, and spirit 6-1, 6-0.
Hemes has developed a trend of not allowing her opponent to breathe, much less take a game off her without paying for it. Nonetheless, this Knight remains humble, attributing her and the team’s success on pure effort alone, “We’ve been working really hard; we’ve been working out more than we did last year, and we’ve just made a bigger commitment this year. We’ve all just been dedicated to working hard and supporting each other as a team.”
Although these rapidly ascending Knights have accumulated a 15-5 record, an undefeated 9-0 record in the MIAC, numerous individual rankings, a #5 regional ranking, and a #25 national ranking, they continue to prepare as they set their sights on their next feat.
Technically, this feat is the team’s final regular season matchup against MIAC rival Gustavus Adolphus College, however, the team might tell you it is just another match. A few weeks ago, Carleton defeated Gustavus in a non-conference match for the first time in 24 years by a narrow margin, 5-4 with a tiebreaker to end it all, not only making history but knocking Gustavus out of the national rankings and heating things up for their future match-ups.
All of this pressure seems daunting, but the Knights continue to ignore the hype. Hemes echoes her teammates saying, “I don’t think we should look at it any differently because last time we were all really focused and we were playing them just like it was any other competitive team we’ve played so far. I think we need to see them not as Gustavus, but as just another high-level team.”
The Knights will face Gustavus (or “high-level team”) for the second time this season Sunday, April 29 at 11 am in St. Peter. It is possible that the teams could face each other a third time for the conference championship.
Despite the urge to control the excitement for these final matches of the season Wilson still holds the opinion that “Everyone’s getting pumped for the Gustavus match but we’re staying focused so that we can kick some Gustie butt.” Based on this prediction, expect these aforementioned posteriors to receive a walloping.