Women’s tennis swings into season with 3-0 start

When Women’s Tennis Captain Ella Swan, ’23, first arrived at Allegheny College back in 2019, the tennis program was in for a delight. They had found a diamond in the rough, with elite level talent hidden under the rough edges of her burgeoning collegiate athletic career.
It is not hard to see the impact Swan has made throughout her tenure in a blue and gold uniform. The senior out of Nashville, Tennessee has swung her way to 38 career victories, including singles and doubles.
From the beginning her presence was made known, after only losing one match throughout the entirety of her freshman campaign. When Swan knew she possessed the skills to play at this level, her progression began, and the grind of improving her craft became evident on the court.
“You definitely have to have a certain amount of confidence in your shots and your game,” Swan said. “I think that has improved, to trust in my abilities.”
As a whole, the team currently boasts a perfect 3-0 record. The season started out of conference, as the team aced Houghton by a score of 9-0.
Making their debut in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference play for the first time in 38 seasons, the Gators were nothing short of marvelous, besting Geneva by a score of 9-0 while earning seven shutout sets. They followed the win with another this past Wednesday as they took down Franciscan 6-3 on the road.
This season, Swan has boasted four singles and two doubles victories throughout the early stages of the 2022 campaign, voraciously demolishing opponents game in and game out. Although Swan takes it match by match, it is easy to look ahead and see how well she can end up playing for the Gators this year, if she stays on the tracks she has already laid down.
While Swan expressed her love for singles matches, she could not help but admit doubles has grown on her since arriving at Allegheny. Though she is still hesitant to call herself a “doubles player,” she has found great enjoyment in developing strategies and working with her partner to find new ways to win on the court.
Jean-Arlette Legrand, ’24, has been Swan’s doubles partner for the past two seasons, and the two have worked hard at building great chemistry to gel together during their matches.
“I really enjoy being her doubles partner,” Swan said. “We have different formations we do on the court … we’re more creative with what we do with our shots.”
The tandem has proven to be viable on the court for Allegheny, as last season both Swan and Lagrand received All-NCAC Doubles Honorable Mentions. They work hard at their craft, as the two have been able to implement new shot types such as slicing the ball, drop shots and lob shots, while also working on rotations and communication to have spatial awareness on the court.
A typical Division III college tennis team will carry anywhere from 10 to 12 players on their roster. Allegheny currently carries 18. This opens the door for more competition amongst the team, and for players to push themselves to get better, so they can have a chance to compete. Although this can appear to instill an individualized atmosphere, the bond the Gators have seems to only be getting stronger.
“We’re all connected as a unit,” Sabrina Rodriguez, ’25, said. “The more wins we get, the more of a sisterhood it feels.”
Amongst the talented roster Allegheny has put together this season, Rodriguez has been the cream of the crop, earning four shutout victories in her first six matches. She has played a big role in upholding the dominant atmosphere created in the late summer, when the Gators were ranked number one in the preseason polls for the Presidents Athletic Conference.
Rodriguez is another player that loves the grind of getting better. Not only does she work on her own game through training, but she also helps others. This past summer she worked at a tennis camp in Kissimmee, Florida, helping youth athletes on their form and teaching the proper techniques of swinging the racquet. Working with kids of skill levels ranging from “red ball” to “yellow ball,” she was not only able to improve the trainees’ abilities, but she was also able to reflect on her own.
“I love working with kids in tennis and seeing them improve,” Rodriguez said. “I could also remind myself while helping them with what they were doing, and using that to improve my own game.”
Allegheny’s next match is Saturday, Sept. 17, at 12 p.m., as they head to Columbus, Ohio to play the Capital Comets, ambitious to claim the best start in program history.