With a talented group of returning players, a very deep roster and two solid freshman recruits, the Yale women’s tennis team looks forward to the beginning of a very successful season. Add to this mix the enthusiasm of a young and exciting coach, and the team once again looks primed to compete for an Ivy League championship.
First-year head coach Chad Skorupka takes over a team coming off its best season in 12 years. The Bulldogs finished the spring season with a 6-1 record in the Ivy League, placing them second in the league behind the University of Pennsylvania.
The team boasts a strong corps highlighted by the return of last season’s top six players — Andrea Goldberg ’02, Margaret Purcell ’04, Biffy Kaufman ’03, Susie Hiniker ’02, Karlyn Martin ’04 and team captain Liz Oosterhuis ’02.
“Our lineup is incredibly deep,” said Goldberg, who played most of last season in the No.1 position. “We have a lot of talent near the top and depth near the bottom. The players on our team are all really close in ability, which is a great advantage for us.”
Rounding out this impressive roster are freshmen Reshmi Srinath and Stephanie White.
“Reshmi and Stephanie are great additions to this team. They work well with the team and add to our depth,” Oosterhuis said.
With such a well-rounded team, the Bulldogs are eager to get the fall season underway. The abbreviated fall season gives the team an opportunity to strengthen their lineup and tinker with possible doubles combinations for the spring. The focal point of the fall season is the International Tennis Association (ITA) tournament, held at Penn in late October.
“One of our primary goals in the fall season is to get as many players as possible into the ITAs,” Skorupka said. “Each school gets one singles player and one doubles team into the tournament automatically, and the rest of the players are selected by committee based on performances in the fall.”
Integral in helping the Bulldogs meet this goal will be Skorupka, who takes over the program from former head coach Meghan McMahon.
At the conclusion of last year’s tennis season, the team received the news of McMahon’s resignation. McMahon, who spent seven years coaching the Bulldogs, cited her desire to be with her two young children as the reason for her departure.
Skorupka comes to Yale with a long resume. As an undergraduate at Penn State he played on the men’s tennis team, and as a graduate student he served as an assistant coach for the women’s tennis team. He later moved on to Wake Forest, where spent two years as an assistant coach for the women’s team.
This summer, Skorupka was offered both an assistant coaching position at Duke, and the head coaching position at Yale.
“The process was a very slow one,” Skorupka said. “I was at a top-15 program, and had the opportunity with Duke to be at a top-five program. When Yale offered me the head coaching position, though, I couldn’t resist. It’s always been my goal to be a head coach at a Division I program.”
Skorupka brings a great deal of energy and experience to the Yale women’s tennis team.
“Coach Skorupka is exactly what we were looking for,” Goldberg said. “His enthusiasm is tremendous, and his background at a top program like Wake Forest can only benefit the team. He’s a shot in the arm for this team.”
But the tragic events of last week tempered the excitement for the new season.
Although the team’s schedule was not affected, the events did, however, give the team reason to step back and reflect.
“We had no practice last Tuesday, and instead, we gathered as a team to discuss our thoughts and feeling about what happened,” Goldberg said. “I think that the best thing to do when something this terrible happens is to get out and follow your normal routine.”
The season kicks off this Saturday with the Princeton Tournament, and the team has its sights set on a number of goals.
“We want to win the Ivies this [spring], which would give us an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament,” said Skorupka.
With such a deep and well-rounded team, it’s not unlikely that the team will accomplish this goal.
Said Goldberg: “Our outlook is really good. Right now, the team has a lot of energy, so the upcoming fall season should be very exciting.”