The Lady Rams’ spring season has treated them well (10-2, 2-0 PSAC) as they extended their current win streak to five, with their fourth straight 9-0 sweep of their opponents.
The team had to battle the elements a few times this week, with matches being moved around to adjust to the weather conditions. When the dust settled, West Chester University faced East Stroudsburg at home to continue their PSAC slate for the season. The team had to cancel their home match against Goldey-Beacom, but they hope to reschedule the match in the future.
With all the change happening with the schedule, it can be hard to stay focused in all the chaos, but Head Coach Tina Tharp trusts her ladies to keep their wits about them.
“I have a pretty veteran team. They have their goals set, they know what they want to do, and nobody is really diverging off that goal,” said Tharp.
On Wednesday, March 27, the Lady Rams faced off against ESU on a windy spring afternoon. West Chester came in with plans to increase their winning streak against the Warriors to seven, with their last loss to their northern rivals coming back in 2010 when some of the women were still in middle school.
WCU executed to perfection, blowing ESU off the courts with a 9-0 sweep of all courts. Claire Uhle and Maddy Shaak defeated Amber Jadus and Kayla Loar 8-2 at first doubles to open the day with a win that was all but guaranteed for the senior stars.
Their teammates held up their end of the deal as well, coming away victorious at second and third doubles as well. Rylee Power and Gracyn Towler won their match handily 8-1 over ESU’s Liz Bartoli and Mariana Zardet. The senior pair of Abriana Nolan and Steph Cifarelli had a bit closer of a match, but came out with a gritty victory 8-4 at third doubles.
The team’s confidence carried over into the singles portion of competition. Shaak and Uhle easily handled their opponents, earning double bagels in both matches with 6-0, 6-0 victories. Power took care of Zardet in straight sets as well winning 6-3, 6-1 at third singles. Nolan defeated Bartoli 6-1, 6-1. Cifarelli defeated Lauren Morissey 6-2, 6-0. And finally, freshman Sophie Rathmell ended the day with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Aubrianna Stetina.
The win extends West Chester’s PSAC East dominance, as the team has not lost a court in 12 straight conference matches. The last time the team lost a court was back in 2015 when they defeated Bloomsburg 8-1.
When asked about how the team continues to win so consistently, captain Shaak said, “I think it’s everyone’s dedication in the offseason, everyone puts a lot of work in… conditioning, hitting, and I think it’s really starting to pay off.”
Their win streak continued on the road against Harford Community College with yet another 9-0 sweep. The Owls proved to have some fight in them but ultimately weren’t able to hold up against a strong WCU squad. Uhle and Shaak won again at first doubles with an 8-3 victory. Second doubles had a strong day as well, as Power and Towler were able to breeze through to an 8-1 win.
Singles also proved to be a smooth ride, with Uhle winning her match 6-2, 6-4 and Shaak earning a 6-2, 6-1 straight sets victory. The rest of the team took care of business winning at love all the way down the line with 6-0, 6-0 wins.
This week was also good for West Chester in the personal achievement department. Shaak won West Chester’s eighth consecutive PSAC East Women’s Tennis Player of the Week award. This honor also marks the eighth such honor for Shaak in her impressive WCU career.
When asked about how it felt to receive such an award, she was surprised.
“I didn’t know that, that’s cool… it’s an honor. I’m really excited about it, I just try my best out there and it’s cool to get awards like that.”
After another strong performance this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see Shaak win one or two more awards before she hangs up her purple and gold attire, with hopefully a PSAC trophy donning the shelf beside it.
The next match for the Lady Rams will be on Sunday, April 2 at noon as they take on Bloomsburg. The team will be celebrating their graduating players as it is their Senior Day. With four seniors on the team, it will be a momentous day for multiple talented young ladies.
Ryan Hunt is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RH803937@wcupa.edu.