Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006
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Athletes often throw around the cliché “we came together as a team.” The Muhlenberg women’s tennis team actually had to do that when it started practice in February.

The Mules return four starters from a squad that went 12-4 last year and earned the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament bid, but none of the four were around for the fall season. Senior Amy Schmidt was playing soccer, juniors Pam Kimmelman and Kelly Fraser were
Kelly Fraser
In her first season as a starter, Fraser was 8-1 in CC matches.
studying in Spain, and an academic commitment kept senior Stacy Lipschutz from the courts.

“It’s an interesting dynamic,” said Lipschutz with a chuckle. “But I think it helped the freshmen become part of the team, because they basically were the team in the fall. They feel very comfortable around us, and it gave them some experience.”

Once everyone got reacquainted, the team set out on the business of trying to recapture the Centennial Conference championship. Muhlenberg shared the title in 2002 and won it outright in 2004, but finished second to Swarthmore last year after losing to the Garnet early in the season. This year, for the first time, the title will be determined by a postseason tournament, rather than by round-robin play.

Leading the way for the Mules in their quest is Schmidt, the first All-American in program history and the 2005 CC player of the year. She posted a combined record of 36-5, going 15-0 in singles play in dual matches, and finished the year as the 19th-ranked singles player in Division III.

Kimmelman moved up to No. 2 last year and was 12-3 overall, 9-1 in the CC. Lipschutz (8-6 at No. 5) and Fraser (12-3 at No. 6) also return to the starting lineup. Freshmen Carly Rotfeld and Jenn Powell were impressive in the fall, teaming up to win a No. 1 doubles match against Moravian.

“We’re pretty solid all the way down the lineup, and we have someone who is experienced in every doubles team,” said Lipschutz. “We have basically the same lineup as last year, with some very strong freshmen who will help a lot.”

Despite playing with a much different lineup than the one they will use this spring, the Mules were ranked 12th in the Atlantic South Region at the end of the fall. Of the 11 teams ranked ahead of them, seven are on the spring schedule. The season kicks off with a pair of matches at Washington & Lee this weekend, the first against the host school (the defending national runner-up) and the second against No. 12 Carnegie Mellon.

“We know they’re good teams, but this can only help us,” Lipschutz remarked. “It will give us a good gauge for where we are as a team.”

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Last updated March 1, 2006