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Hillsdale College Women’s Tennis team poses

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.”