Earlier this year Emerson‘s Women’s Tennis team was given an “honorable mention” by www.tennisrecruiting.net, a national tennis publication, for recruiting one of the best tennis classes in the country. Lacey Russell ’14, Savannah Mosser ’14, and Alicia Pellegrin ’14 more than proved the pundits correct.
Emerson’s three freshmen had a combined record of 42–2 in dual matches their first season. Each was undefeated in singles competition with Mosser leading the way at 9–0, Russell 8–0, and Pellegrin right behind with 7–0. Russell was undefeated in both singles and doubles play, while Mosser and Pellegrin each dropped one doubles match.
“I knew all three were going to be good,” said Emerson Women’s Tennis Coach Mason Astley. “Since they were from vastly different geographic areas, to be honest, I didn’t know how good.” Russell is from Georgia, Mosser is from California, and Pellegrin, from Texas.
The trio dominated their opponents in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) and led Emerson to the championship match, where the Lions fell to Simmons College 5-2. Simmons also gave Emerson its only other loss in the Lions’ 10–2 season with a 6–3 victory during the regular season. The three points Emerson earned in the match were singles wins by Russell at #1 and Mosser at #2, and a win at first doubles by the pair. Pellegrin did not compete in the match.
“I knew all three were going to be good. Since they were from vastly different geographic areas, to be honest, I didn’t know how good.”
“What was great was that Lacey [Russell] and Savannah [Mosser] were very close,” said Astley. “I probably could have flipped a coin when deciding who was going to play number one. They have slightly different skill sets, but both are very tough mentally.”
That was proved in the first GNAC match of the season. Emerson was facing the Suffolk University Rams. The Rams had ended Emerson’s 2009 season by eliminating the Lions in the GNAC semi-finals. Suffolk returned all-conference players at first and second singles, and they paired to form a formidable doubles combination.
With doubles being played first, Russell and Mosser dominated their opponents with an 8–1 win. In singles play the Suffolk duo fared no better, with Russell taking a 6–0, 6–0 decision, and Mosser winning 6–2, 6–3.
To strengthen Emerson’s doubles play, Astley split Russell and Mosser after the first four matches. “Savannah blends really well with other people,” according to Astley. “We used her with four different partners. “I knew Lacey would be a strong doubles player. She’s aggressive and plays well at the net. She and Savannah were great together, but the team was stronger top to bottom when we split them up.”
Pellegrin had an injury–plagued season, but her level of competitiveness never wavered.
“What’s great about Alicia is that although she’s not as big a personality as the other two,” Astley said, “she worked hard this season and worked through her injuries.”
“In her matches she always looked like she was in control. She’d play a long point and if she’d lose it I’d be concerned as to how she’d react. Then I’d look at her and she’d be fine. She was very steady and as the season went on she improved as she learned to attack more.”
Each of the three was a GNAC first-team all-conference player. In a surprising twist, Mosser was named GNAC Player of the Year, while Russell was named the Rookie of the Year in the Conference. Right now the three first-year students are big fish in a relatively small pond. Astley hopes to change that.
“We may play a couple of teams in the spring that can help their reputation,” he said. “Being around good tennis is beneficial. There’s a different feeling about playing good teams. The matches are full–speed right from the beginning.”