Spartan Women Open Fall Season with Solid Performance at Oberlin Invite

The Spartans enjoy a solid opening weekend at the OC Invite. (photo by Risal Djohan)
The Spartans enjoy a solid opening weekend at the OC Invite. (photo by Risal Djohan)

OBERLIN, Ohio – The Case Western Reserve University women's tennis team sent 12 players, including seven freshmen, to compete at the fall season-opening Oberlin College Invitational hosted at the Don Hunsinger Courts on Friday-Sunday, September 14-16.

Highlighting the weekend, freshman Sara Zargham (Torrance, Calif./California Academy of Math and Science) led the Spartans with a 3-0 singles record. Classmate Kaitlin Mills (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) totaled the most combined wins with five as Case posted a 27-19 match record for the invitational.

"I'm pleased with the way we opened," said fifth-year Head Coach Todd Wojtkowski. "We were missing two key players with Erika (Lim) studying abroad and Emily (Pham) out with an injury, but we still won a good percentage of our matches versus tough competition."

Day one of the invitational featured strictly doubles competition, and five Spartan pairs combined to post a 3-2 record. Senior captain Kathleen Evers (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) and Zargham were 8-5 winners versus freshman Meg Chiumento and sophomore Heather Abzug of Denison University. Mills and freshman Meredith Lee (South Bend, Ind./Penn) bested the Big Red duo of freshmen Emma Forman and Katy Barenholtz, 8-4.

Singles play began on day two, and the Spartans posted a 13-11 record while also finishing at 2-1 in limited doubles action. Zargham upended junior Carolyn Shetter of Allegheny College (Pa.) by scores of 7-6 (5), 6-4 and beat Shetter's teammate, Mikaela Pope, 6-2, 6-4.

Mills rallied to defeat Denison's Barenholtz in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 10-6). Freshman Michelle Djohan (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake) knocked off Kenyon College freshman Taylor Diffley by counts of 6-3, 4-6, 11-9. Sophomore Alexandra Lim (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton Union) shutout Allegheny's Pope with two 6-0 sets then beat Denison's Abzug 6-2, 6-2.

On day three, the Spartans were 2-3 in doubles play and 9-3 in singles competition. Sophomore Marianne Bonanno (Clayton, Ohio/Northmont) beat Fitzpatrick of Denison 6-2, 6-0. Zargham defeated Ohio Northern University freshman Christina Corbean 6-2, 6-2. Freshman Taylor Sweeney (Fort Gratiot, Mich./Port Huron Northern) was a 6-1, 6-0 winner versus Kenyon's Diffley. Mills beat Denison's Abzug 6-2, 7-5.

"We're obviously young, but the learning curve for our freshmen appears to be extremely fast," noted Wojtkowski. "I was impressed with how much improvement was evident in such a small number of matches. We identified key areas to work on, so this was great preparation for regionals."

The Spartans return to action at the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region Championship in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 28-30.