Oles regain momentum at Hilton Head

Over spring break, the women’s tennis team played a series of matches at Hilton Head, S.C., competing against Wooster College, UW-Oshkosh, Virginia Wesleyen and Hollins University in preparation for its upcoming home stretch of crucial matches against conference opponents. After drop- ping two of its first three MIAC contests against St. Thomas and St. Catherine follow- ing a promising 2-1 start to the season, St. Olaf needed somewhat of a reboot to boost its confidence heading into the second, most critical half of the season. Fortunately for the Oles, the trip to Hilton Head seems to be exactly what they needed.

During its trip, St. Olaf swept the com- petition away, winning all four of its series of matches in dominant fashion, including a 9-0 shutout of Virginia Wesleyan and a near- ly equally impressive 8-1 defeat of Hollins.

Margaret Zimmermann ’18 convincing- ly continued her undefeated junior season. She mowed down every individual oppo- nent without dropping a set in singles, and, together with fellow veteran and new dou- bles partner Erin McDonald ’18, accom- plished the same feat in doubles, including a dominant 8-1 victory against UW-Oshkosh and blowing away Virginia Wesleyan in a comparable 8-2 rout.

“A great part about the trip was that every- one got to play in most of the matches, and as a team we had great results,” Zimmermann said. “We also became a lot closer because we lived in a big house together, cooked meals together and spent a lot of time talking and learning more about each other.”

Along with Zimmermann and McDonald were strong performances by Kellis Brandt ’19 and Sophia Skoglund ’18. The duo went undefeated at Hilton Head, not los- ing a single set in the process. After starting

the season 3-0 in singles, both Brandt and Skoglund were soundly beaten at the hands of St. Thomas and St. Catherine, slowing the team’s early momentum and causing some worry about St. Olaf’s depth. However, after gaining back their confidence over break, particularly Brandt, who won a nail-biting singles match against St. Benedict (3-6 6-3 10-7), both athletes have the Oles poised for another playoff run.

The key for women’s tennis is translating its success to conference matches. The Oles are 6-1 against non-MIAC opponents but have stumbled to a 1-3 conference record and currently sit at ninth place. They’ll need to take advantage of a second-half schedule loaded with conference matches – if its suc- cess over break is any indication, St. Olaf’s fortunes against its more immediate rivals could reverse as soon as Saturday’s match against St. Mary’s.