In their last fall competition, the Hillsdale College Chargers hosted a three-team round-robin invitational on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Chargers individually posted good results in their matches against Tiffin and Walsh, two of Hillsdale’s rivals in the G‑MAC.
“We wanted to make our presence felt early on and get a feel for the competition,” junior Hannah Cimpeanu said.
The Chargers were successful in that task, as their 18 – 7 match record bested Walsh’s 8 – 11 and Tiffin’s 8 – 15 records.
Three Chargers won all their matches. Junior Sophia Spinazze and sophomore Canela Luna secured both their no. 3 doubles matches, and the two cruised through their singles matches in straight sets.
The third undefeated Charger was junior Hannah Cimpeanu, who swept her singles matches at no. 1 and played dominantly with sophomore Sarah Hackman in doubles.
“It really showed that it was working and we clicked,” Cimpeanu said of her chemistry with Hackman. “So far I feel like this is the best we performed as a team together. She’s incredibly supportive, calm, and at the same time an aggressive player and motivating.”
This is the third year the pair will play together in doubles. Despite successful tournament runs in years past, the pair worked to improve as a team this fall, according to Cimpeanu.
“We’re both big singles players so we have big serves and powerful groundstrokes,” Cimpeanu said. “We’ve been working on placing rather than just relying on our power and it has helped us.”
In the first set of her singles match against Tiffin, Cimpeanu succesfully outlasted her opponent 7 – 5, 6 – 2 in her straight set victory.
“I just had to find my game and execute it,” Cimpeanu said. “She fed off my power and my deeper shots. She handled it really well, but I was able to find my groove in the match and deliver a more consistent second set.”
Others found ways to grind out of tough situations. Freshman Helena Formentin picked herself up later in the day at no. 4 singles. After losing a tight first set against Walsh, she was unable to secure a win as her opponent took the match 7 – 5, 6 – 0.
The nerves started to mount later in the afternoon against Tiffin when Formentin lost the first set 1 – 6. She shook off the dropped set and mounted a charge to overcome her opponent and force a third-set tiebreak.
“I told myself it was a matter of how badly I wanted it,” Formentin said. “I knew that if I focused on consistency and hitting the right shots at the right time, she would eventually mess up.”
In the tiebreak, she edged past her opponent for her first match win, 10 – 7.
“Winning that tiebreak and coming back from such a poor first set greatly boosted my confidence as a member of the team,” Formentin said. “It taught me how important it is to stay mentally stable and not give up.”
With their final tournament over, the Chargers will now practice for the remainder of the semester in preparation for spring matches.
“We were just excited to have match play,” head women’s tennis coach Nicole Walbright said. “The goal overall was to get as much match play as possible.”
In a shortened fall season, the conference cancellations and added NCAA restrictions imposed new challenges on the teams attempt to do just that.
Walbright said she appreciates the chance the invitational gave the team to put the teams developments to the test at an individual level.
“We were able to break out of comfort zones,” Cimpeanu said. “Everyone was playing more confidently. The girls performed well and I think it will give us confidence in the spring.”