Women’s Tennis Earns Highest Ever National Ranking

Ask anybody on the MIT women’s tennis team about their fall 2007 season, and if they don’t brag to you about national rankings and academic honors, you can smile because you know they are being modest.

The Lady Engineers finished their spring 2007 season ranked 30th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Rankings, a status that Head Coach Carol Matsuzaki proudly called “no small thing.” Come fall though, the team proved it could perform at an even higher level. Finishing 7-2 in conference play and 8-3 overall, MIT closed the fall season ranked 23rd in the nation and regionally ranked sixth.

Individual performances this fall were also notable. Mariah N. Hoover ’08 was named to both singles and doubles NEWMAC All-Conference Team, making her the first athlete in MIT tennis history to accomplish this in each of her four years. Leslie A. Hansen ’10 finished her strong season ranked fourth regionally, decorated as the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference’s Women’s Tennis Athlete of the Year. Hansen and doubles partner Hoover were also recognized as the fourth ranked doubles team in the region.

The athletes of the MIT women’s team also performed well in the classroom. In August, the ITA announced that for the first time in MIT history, the entire roster of 11 women received scholar-athlete accolades. Only two schools in the country received a greater number of scholar-athlete honors.

Still, most athletes on the women’s tennis team will tell you that beyond exceptional performances, rankings, and awards, the team is defined above all by the closeness of its members. Through cheering for each other, celebrating each other’s birthdays, and weekend activities such as candlepin bowling, the team continued to grow closer and create lasting memories that undoubtedly had a positive effect on their incredible season.

Heading into the 2008 spring season, the women’s tennis team has its sights set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a team. Helping the players reach that goal will be a spring break trip to California where they will play MIT’s historic rival, the California Institute of Technology, in a battle of the Engineers.

Mariah N. Hoover ’08 and Karina N. Pikhart ’09 are co-captains of the women’s tennis team.