Stellar fall leads to first ever invite to Bowdoin Invitational

Women’s tennis closed out their season this weekend in Brunswick, ME at the Bowdoin Invitational. The annual tournament features teams from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), featuring a number of NESCAC teams as well as others from around the northeast. The Bowdoin Invitational includes both singles and doubles matches, completing a full two days of tennis. The singles draw was comprised of five singles brackets with eight players in each, while there was a single double bracket with sixteen players.

Colby’s tennis season has had mixed results, with players finding individual success while the team has been unable to crack the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top 40 rankings. Other teams in the NESCAC conference, Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Amherst ranked within the top 10 nationally, but Colby chased the number 40 ranked Hamilton all season, but fell just short. 

This past weekend, Colby had players in every singles bracket but one and sent three pairs to the doubles draw. Isha Banerjee `21 and Caleigh McClain `23 won their play-in match 8-1 for a decisive victory over Laura Littlefield `23 and Grace Kennedy `23. Their run was quickly ended, however, in another 8-1 run into the number one seeded Risa Fukushige `21 and Chanhtel Thongphok `23. Skidmore’s duo went on to lose in the finals. Colby’s Lidnsey Hernandez `22 and Jessica Tsai `20 fell 8-0 to a Wellesley duo, while Callie Nesbitt `21 and Katharine Dougherty `22 lost 8-3 to a pair from Skidmore.

The Mules saw more success in singles, seeing Emilia Callery `22 win the group E draw. The E draw featured both Callery and Banerjee on opposite sides of the bracket. Callery was given a first round bye due to seeding, but Banerjee swept both sets 6-0 to cruise into the second round. The next round saw Callery in a close matchup, winning the first set 7-6, but stepping up to a big 6-2 win in the second set. Banerjee cruised into the draw’s final with 6-2 and 6-4 wins. The two Mules were in a final together, but Banerjee stepped due to illness graciously conceding the title to her teammate Callery.

Draw A featured Colby’s Callie Nesbitt, who fell victim to the number one ranked player in the tournament, Risa Fukushige, who decisively knocked Nesbitt out in the first round. Bracket B fell out similarly, although featuring two Colby athletes, Katharine Dougherty and Caleigh McClain. Both Mules were defeated in the first round, finishing up a long weekend of tennis.

Colby’s luck finally changed with Draw C. Draw C saw a notable Colby effort from Hernandez, who swept two matches into the bracket’s final. Taking the final match to three sets, Hernandez lost to Wellesley’s Cinji Lee `22 for a heartbreaking result. Draw D featured a revenge story of the ages as Jessica Tsai `20 took down her former Skidmore teammate 6-3, 6-4 before falling out in the semi finals. 

This team of majority underclassmen, combined with strong senior leadership is only getting better. It is worth noting Colby’s roster was missing two of its strongest players in Carly Levitz `22 and Crystal Xu `23 due to injury and Olivia Scordo `22, who tore her labrum last fall. The Bowdoin Invitational provided the team’s other players with a ton of match play and Dougherty remarked, “it is a great place to end the season and set a standard for the spring”.

The Mules were invited to the Bowdoin Invitational for their first time because of their stellar fall, as they rose up in the rankings. With full recoveries across the board, they’ll break into the top 40 rankings and keep getting better. Colby women’s tennis will pick right back up in the spring way down in Fredericksburg, Virginia at the Blue-Grey Invite.