Langston Hood, Senior Sports Writer
The Wooster women’s tennis team traveled to Gambier, Ohio to partake in the Kenyon Invitational, where the newly-minted Kenyon Owls hosted eight teams from Ohio and beyond in a two-day tournament. Along with Wooster, Case Western Reserve, Carnegie Mellon, Denison, John Carroll, Otterbein, Oberlin and Indiana University of Pennsylvania met for Kenyon’s version of the U.S. Open. Although the weather evaporated Sunday’s portion of the singles matches, Wooster embraced the difficulties and salvaged what they could from a weekend of hard fought matches.
Saturday began with a series of tough singles matches for the Fighting Scots, as first-year Sarah Mashaal ’26 fell to Olivia Eckels ’25 of Otterbein University in a three set match (6-7, 7-5, 5-10). Eckels would go on to defeat Abby Aitken ’24 in straight sets (6-3, 6-1) as she played the villain more than once over the course of Saturday’s proceedings. Otilia Oita ’24 was also defeated in her singles matches against Lalasa Nagireddy ’25 of Kenyon in a three set battle (7-6, 3-6, 4-10). Oita would also fall to Asha Shukla ’26 of Case Western, in her second singles match of the day (2-6, 5-7).
Despite the tough start, Oita remains confident that the rest of the season will see the Fighting Scots return to their winning ways. Oita reflected positively on the invitational saying, “this weekend, we played some really good schools and we all had close matches. I have high hopes for another regional ranking this year after seeing how the team elevated its game. I think it’s going to be an exciting season!”
Wooster found success in the singles portion of the Invitational later in the day as sophomore Janaki Jagnnathan ’25 recovered from a first set deficit to fight off Chloe Ku ’24 of Case Western in a close match (6-7, 6-3, 10-8). This came after Jagannathan dropped her first match against Anika Joshi ’26 of Carnegie Mellon, who dominated Court Three on Saturday, defeating each opponent that she faced.
First-year Cherry Patlolla ’26 also picked up a win for the Scots defeating Felicity Kolb ’26 of John Carroll in dominant fashion, dropping only three games (6-1, 6-2). Patlolla faltered in her following match, an all-out war, with Sofia Zafiropulos ’26 of Denison as the two battled for the Court One throne (6-4, 4-6, 7-10). Abby Aitken ’24 tallied a win for the Fighting Scots as she defeated another John Carroll Blue Streak in dominant fashion, allowing Anna Vitale ’26 to win only three games in their match (6-3, 6-0). Aitken reflected on her experiences off the court that the invitational provided, speaking to the team’s camaraderie and the way the invitational brought them together. Aitken said, “my favorite part about playing in the Kenyon Invitational was getting to cheer on my teammates and having my teammates cheer me on. These really long tournaments are great for team bonding.”
This unity was on full display as Saturday drew to a close with the Scots winning two of their doubles matches, claiming victory. The Wooster pairing consisting of Abby Williams ’26 and Katie Materick ’23 defeated a pair from Denison in a close match that finished 8-7. Aitken and Mashaal followed suit, laying waste to Vitale and Emma Boreman ’26 of John Carroll by a score of 8-5. These matches would bring Saturday to a close as the first day of the invitational ended.
Sunday would play host to a strange set of circumstances as inclement weather drove play back inside, forcing the singles portion of the invitational to be called off as the outdoor courts were no longer playable. The day began with a rocky start as the doubles teams of Oita/Jagannathan and Patlolla/Nguyen both lost to teams from Case Western in convincing fashion. However, Patlolla/Nguyen found their stride in their next match, defeating a Kenyon pair in a nail-biting 8-7 victory. In the Scots’ last action of the weekend, Williams/Materick defeated an Otterbein team by a score of 8-6.
Although the Fighting Scots struggled to find consistent results at times, the team remains positive and looks forward to broadcasting their resilient spirit as the season continues. Aitken reflected on the invitational in a positive manner, saying that she feels the team’s best tennis is ahead of them. “I’m looking forward to playing more matches in the rest of the fall season, but also getting to play with my teammates in the spring as well. We really bond as a team during these long weekend tournaments because we are spending so much time together celebrating wins, supporting after losses, and having so much fun.”
Wooster returns to the courts on Saturday, Sept. 17 in a home match against the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets!