Lehigh women's tennis first-year Giselle Vlassis on the court. The Lehigh women's tennis team will take on Army in West Point, New York, on April 12. (Courtesy Lehigh Sports)

Women’s tennis focuses on doubles points for spring season


Lehigh women’s tennis coach Olivia Leavitt said one of her team’s goals in her second season was to win as many doubles points as possible.

To accomplish this, Leavitt increased the number of doubles her team plays in practices, a move she said she took for the team to develop their communication, strategy and connection.

The change has kick-started a nearly unbeatable stretch of play in doubles while contributing to a team culture that has led to record-breaking results.

“Good teams have really good chemistry and chemistry is really important in doubles,” Leavitt said. “I feel like we have just really tried to prioritize it.”

Lehigh’s 14 doubles-point-wins in 18 dual meets have been a key part of the team’s 13-5 record heading into the closing stages of conference play. The thirteen wins on the season tie a program record set in 2004.

Each of the three main doubles pairings have winning records this season. First-year Audrey Harrington and junior Hamsa Javagal have the most wins of the bunch, sitting at a 13-3 record on the season. Additionally, senior twin sisters Anushka Dania and Megha Dania are off to a 13-4 start as both pairings sit 4-2 in Patriot League play.

The third pairing is composed of first-year Maggie Forkner and junior Allyce Gaborik, who have a record of 9-8 and are 2-4 in Patriot League competition.

Forkner became a key player for the Mountain Hawks in singles play the second she stepped on campus, winning Patriot League Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 20. Since conference play has started, Forkner has won five of her six singles matches.

“I don’t think she takes anything for granted,” Leavitt said. “She knows that if she keeps doing the little things, that her game is just gonna keep growing. It has no limit.”

Forkner found herself locked in a tight singles match against Lafayette on April 4 where, after clearing her opponent 6-0 in the first set, she dropped four games in the second.

That matchup took place in the Lewis Indoor Tennis Courts, a large, echo-filled, dimly-lit venue with only one section of bleachers that seats 100 people in the middle of the four courts.

Leavitt sat and observed the ongoing match from the top row. Sitting at the bottom row and standing around nearby were Forkner’s teammates screaming her name as she continued to push on into her singles match.

With her teammates cheering her on, she rallied through the second-set pressure to take a 6-4 win. 

The win clinched a 4-0 clean sweep of Lafayette and the Mountain Hawks’ 21st straight win against the Leopards.

After the match, Forkner described her teammates as people who like to “energize” each other.

“We describe ourselves as loud,” Forkner said. “We just love to hype each other up and bring each other up.”

Forkner and her doubles partner, Gaborik, won both their doubles match and their singles matches against Lafayette, giving Lehigh three of their five wins collectively.

Gaborik pointed to team morale as a reason for their success, but also alluded to an emphasis on conditioning.

“We put in a lot of work fitness-wise,” Gaborik said. “I think that has really helped us in some of the closer matches, in and out of Patriot League play.”

Patriot League competition will continue for two more matches as Lehigh will have a chance to break the all-time record for single-season wins in one of their last two meets against either Boston University or Army. The task will not be easy as both meets are on the road and the Terriers and Black Knights are first and second in the Patriot League.

Then, the team will have the chance to play in the Patriot League Championships on April 18-21 in Annapolis, Maryland.

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