High hopes in season ahead for Oregon women’s tennis
Leaders of the Oregon women’s tennis team have begun to emerge early in the fall season and make their mark in the ITA All-American pre-season rankings.
On Sept. 12, Alyssa Tobita, Shweta Sangwan, Rifanty Kahfiani and Julia Eshet qualified for pre-season rankings in both singles and doubles going into the ITA All-American Championships. Following the three-day tournament in Pacific Palisades, California, the Ducks’ run came to an end when both doubles teams, Tobita paired with Kahfiani and Eshet with Sangwan, lost in the second round of qualifying.
The ITA ranked senior Tobita at No. 48 in singles, following her 10-10 record last season, during which she was awarded second team all-Pac-12 honors. The Mililani, Hawai’i, native began this season in the No. 3 seed which helped her prepare for a competitive mindset.
“The seeding was a good way for me to have the mentality that I am a higher seed,” Tobita said. “But I still shoot to really attack when I play the first and second seed.”
Tobita also appeared on the qualifying doubles alternate list with Kahfiani, ranked No. 48 by ITA in the preseason; however, it was in the second round of qualifying when they lost to Kansas’ Nina Khmelnitckaia and Anastasia Rychagova 8-3.
Last spring, junior Sangwan was featured in ESPN.com’s article that profiled her transition from India to the United States to continue playing competitive tennis, along with Florida State’s Nandini Das and Penn’s OJ Singh. As a driven athlete for the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, since she was 11 years old, Sangwan paved a path for herself and doesn’t expect to slow down anytime soon. Sangwan finished last season with a 13-12 record in the two final matches against UCLA and North Carolina State. Ranked No. 36 in ITA’s preseason rankings, she and sophomore Julia Eshet faced Florida Atlantic’s Aliona Bolsova and Natalia Boltinskaya when they fell short with a 8-4 loss.
Eshet is looking to pick up where she left off from her previous season. The sophomore from Hollywood, Florida, finished out her 2016-17 record at 12-9, leading the team with a 6-4 singles conference record. Ranked at No. 38 with Sangwan in doubles alongside Pac-12 opponents like UCLA’s Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara, California’s Karla Popovic and Olivia Hauger and Stanford’s Emily Arbuthnott and Janice Shinn.
Former ITF Junior Champion Kahfiani tied in doubles rankings with Eshet alongside Wyoming pair Elisa Koonik and Tessa van der Ploeg at No. 48. When Kahfiani paired with Tobita last season, they finished with a 5-3 overall record playing at the No. 2 position in each match. The sophomore from Indonesia opened the All-American tournament in singles pre-qualifying.
Although the 8-3 loss against Kansas wasn’t what Kahfiani and Tobita had hoped for, they, along with Sangwan and Eshet, are focused on looking forward to the rest of the fall season tournaments prior to the tougher competition they will face in the spring.
“There were a lot of positive lessons this week at the ITA All-American event,” head coach Alison Silverio said. “Moving forward, our tactical preparation and discipline must increase. I’m excited for the improvements we will gain throughout the fall.”
Oregon women’s tennis will compete in the first full team tournament of the season this weekend starting Friday, Oct. 13 at the Washington Invitational in Seattle.
Follow Daphne Martin on Twitter @daaphnemaartin
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