LOS ANGELES — A young, new-look Occidental College women's tennis team opened its season with a split against a pair of NAIA teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Tigers beat Hope International 5-4 at Scholl Canyon on Thursday and lost at Westmont College 7-1 on Friday.
The Tigers (1-1), which have nine underclassmen on their roster, edged Hope despite falling behind 2-1 after the doubles competition. Keilani Ericksen (Waimanalo, Hawaii) defeated Caroline Houston at No. 2 singles, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and Oxy's Caroline Anderson (Newtown Square, Pa.), Amber Gadsden (Yigo, Guam) and Maria Stewart (Baltimore, Md.) earned victories at No. 4-6 singles. Erickson and Anderson, both freshmen, each earned their first Oxy victories. Sara Charney (South Pasadena) and Lucy Malloch (Portland, Ore.) beat Alyssa Pritchett and Monique Jimenez in No. 3 doubles, 8-1.
"We were down 2-1 after doubles, yet we came back to prevail," Occidental coach Jeffrey Normile said. "It was a good first match for all of the first-year players."
On Friday, the Tigers brought their same youthful enthusiasm to Santa Barbara, but lost to a "more seasoned" Westmont squad, according to Normile.
Erickson was on the verge of heading into the third-set tiebreaker before darkness called the match early.
Charney edged Westmont's Kelly Keach for Oxy's only win in No. 3 singles, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
The Tigers hit the road to face another GSAC team, playing at Biola University on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. and then face Bates at Scholl Canyon on Feb. 20 at 3 p.m.
"We look forward to improving with each match of the season," Normile said. "I think we're on track with the singles and our doubles will continue to improve."