The Dartmouth women’s tennis team had a lot to pack into their two mini-vans for the return trip to Hanover, N.H., from the ECAC Women’s Indoor Tennis Championship at Harvard last weekend. They had all their athletic gear plus the runner-up trophy, which the fifth-seeded Big Green earned after knocking off No. 4 seed Brown and top-seeded Princeton before falling in the final to defending champion Yale. They also had more than 100 pounds of food and clothing for Dartmouth’s Haiti relief efforts, which they had solicited from the tournament’s seven competing teams.

 

Dartmouth senior co-captains Jesse Adler and Julia Zak came up with the idea to collect charitable donations at the


Julia Zak
tournament, which included six of the Ivy League schools (only the University of Pennsylvania was absent, replaced by Boston University). The pair were inspired by Students at Dartmouth for Haiti Relief, a student-led group that has raised more than $200,000 for Partners in Health (PIH) since Haiti was devastated by an earthquake on January 12. PIH was co-founded by Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim and has been providing health care in Haiti for over 20 years.

 

“My mom had read an article in USA Today  about how successful Dartmouth’s student relief efforts for Haiti have been and she and I were talking about the Dartmouth community’s strong response,” says Adler, a psychology major from Winnetka, Ill. “With the ECAC tournament on the horizon, I felt that collegiate women’s tennis teams was another community we could tap into. We compete against these teams for four years and spend a lot of time together at tournaments and matches. So Julia and I thought it would be great for us all to join forces and make a meaningful contribution to the Haiti relief efforts.”

 

Zak and Adler contacted all the participating team captains two weeks before the tournament and asked them to solicit donations on their campuses for clothes, shoes, and food items such as protein bars, peanut butters, and beans. The other ECAC competitors responded, and brought bags and boxes of donated items with them to the tournament. “We were extremely pleased with the way all the teams came together to give something,” says Zak, a double major in economics and studio art from Bernardsville, N.J. “We always look to do community service as a team each term, so it was nice to have other teams join us on this project.”

 

The donations collected by the women’s tennis team joined the 18 tons of supplies that have been sent from the Dartmouth community to help Haiti. All told, donations of cash, supplies, and services now total more than $1 million in the continuing collaboration between Dartmouth College, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth Medical School, and PIH.

 

Adler says they are now exploring the possibility of having other conferences join their Haiti relief efforts. “We wanted to see how effective it was within the ECAC first,” she says, “and we were definitely pleased with the end result.”

 

They were also pleased with the Big Green’s results at the ECAC tournament. Their 4-3 win over Princeton marked Dartmouth’s first victory since 1997 over the Tigers, who have won eight Ivy League titles. And with three wins over nationally ranked teams since February 13 (No. 47 Princeton, No. 63 Brown, and No. 69 Boston University), the Big Green enters the national rankings this week at No. 57. Dartmouth’s undefeated top singles player Molly Scott ’11 is also now ranked No. 113 in singles and No. 30 in doubles with partner Mary Beth Winingham ’10.

 

“Our word for the year as a team has been ‘today,’” says Adler. “That each one of us is going to give absolutely everything we have for that individual day, in practice or matches, and know that if we are able to commit ourselves to that we will improve. For us, I think the best part of the ECAC tournament was that each individual competed so hard each day. We had three tough matches back to back, but there was no letdown at all. Not everyone played their best every time individually, but we went out there and put everything, all of our mental and physical work from the past six months, on the line. And we definitely saw the results.”