Women’s tennis claims pair of wins


Jean-Arlette Legrand, ’24, returns a hit from the opponent during the Saturday, April 1, game versus Theil College.

The Allegheny women’s tennis team dominated on the court this past weekend as it took down two conference foes in Thiel College and Washington and Jefferson College on Saturday, April 4. It was a clean sweep, as the team won both matches 9-0.

The Gators have made quite the racket this year as they continue to perform at arguably the highest level the program has ever seen. After going a perfect 14-0 in the fall and winning the Presidents’ Athletic Conference title, they are looking for a strong finish to the season.

“(The locker room) is vibrant,” said Sabrina Rodriguez, ’25. “We are preparing our attitudes and mental mindset.”

The Gators started their 2023 campaign in early March with a trip down to Hilton Head, South Carolina. The team dropped the first two games of the spring to Gettysburg College and Sweet Briar College. The remainder of the trip was canceled due to rain, so the Gators headed back north to resume play against the regular cast of competition.

After getting a two-and-a-half week break due to another cancellation upon their return to Meadville, the Gators finally got a chance at redemption versus Mount Union College on March 25. The team took care of business and won its first game of the new semester 7-2.

The celebration came to a quick end, though, as their next game was against the No. 12 nationally ranked Case Western Reserve University. Despite the loss, there were a couple of close matches that kept the Spartans on their heels, including an 8-5 defeat in doubles from Rodriguez and Maria Lounder, ’26.

“We put up a great fight,” Rodriguez said. “I have more confidence playing in a high-level competition. It challenges me to do better.”

Allegheny showed out in their home opener during the most recent contests. Lounder and Rodriguez were paired in doubles against the Tomcats and the Presidents, cruising to victory while continuing to make a name for themselves. The two young stars have a bright future with the program. The tag-team duo is coming together for the first time this semester, yet their chemistry makes it seem like they have played alongside each other for years.

“Maria is an amazing player,” Rodriguez said. “She can adjust to every atmosphere. She can work with everybody and has a great mindset.”

Rodriguez, a Florida native, is in her second year starting for the Gators. She capitalized on her opportunities after getting the call as a first-year, and has honed in on her craft this year. After a strong fall, she thinks she has more in the tank to offer than what she has produced this spring, however. Rodriguez’s mental game has progressed leaps and bounds to allow her to stay focused during play.

What makes Rodriguez deceptive is her ability to scout opponents and plan an appropriate attack. If she recognizes someone with a slow backhand, she will go after their weakness relentlessly to put herself in good positions. She stays ahead of the curve which has led her to success.

“Sabrina has a great deal of talent as well as a strong work ethic,” said Head Coach Dave Hayden. “With that combination, we are excited to see how her game can grow over the next few seasons.”

Lounder has been another top notch player for the Gators this season. Being just a first-year, she has had no trouble adjusting to the upgraded level of competition from high school.
She went a perfect 14-0 in both singles and doubles throughout the fall, including victories in both settings during the PAC Championship final. She has quickly shined under the tutelage of Hayden.

“Maria is part of a strong foundation which we are building the program around,” said Hayden.

The Gators will look to conclude their season with two more victories against Division II Clarion University and Carnegie Mellon University. With Allegheny earning an automatic qualifier bid because of winning the PAC in the fall, their eyes are now set for the NCAA tournament in May.

“We are feeling good about the way the team is playing,” Hayden said. “We are seeing contributions from a lot of different players.”