Like many lucky Elis, the Yale women’s tennis team went somewhere warm for their spring break. But the two-week excursion to Florida and North Carolina was not just a vacation — it was also a five-game road trip.
The Bulldogs (5-6, 0-0 Ivy) posted a 2-3 record during the break, featuring victories over the University of Central Florida, 5-2, and UNC-Greensboro, 7-0, and losses to Florida International University, 6-1, Florida Atlantic University, 4-3, and No. 5 Duke, 7-0.
The Bulldogs, currently ranked 75 in the country, began the trip with a 5-2 victory over the University of Central Florida, ranked 73, on Mar. 9. Freshman Christine Alford clinched the Eli victory with her 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory at the number two singles slot, providing the fourth point needed for the team’s victory.
“At the start of spring break, just getting used to outdoors and playing against teams who play outdoors year-round, starting the first match and winning is great,” Alford said. “You think ‘Keep going!’ It makes the team more positive.”
The matches played over break were the first that the Elis played outside, which required adjusting to such factors as the sun and wind. Most of the opponents that Yale faced over break are able to practice outside year-round.
Two days after the victory over UCF, the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the trip, falling to Florida International University 6-1 on March 11. The only Eli victory came at the number two singles spot, where Alford took her match in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.
The next match, however, was a far more painful loss. On March 13, with two matches left to play, the Bulldogs held a 3-2 lead over Florida Atlantic University. But the Owls pulled off two three-set victories at the number three and five slots to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
“I think our 4-3 loss to Florida Atlantic was the most frustrating,” Reshmi Srinath ’05 said. “Because we did get the doubles point and we got off to a great start, winning a lot of first sets in the singles, only to let our opponents come back and win in a couple tight three-set singles matches.”
While the loss to Florida Atlantic was disappointing, it did not take the Elis long to rebound. The Elis returned to winning form in a big way on March 17 with a dominating 7-0 victory over UNC-Greensboro. The Bulldogs lost only one set in the entire contest.
Yale finished the trip at Duke on March 18. Playing the number five team in the country, the Bulldogs fell 7-0 to the Blue Devils. The Elis did put up one victory — the number one doubles team of Ashley Martin ’04 and captain Karlyn Martin ’04 squeezed by their Duke opponents 9-7. The Bulldogs nearly took the doubles point — which requires winning two out of the three doubles matches — with the Martin’s victory and the number two Yale team of Aimee Kim ’07 and Reshmee Patil ’07 just barely losing 9-8.
“We were very happy, and our number two team had a few match points,” Karlyn Martin said. “So we performed really well in the doubles at Duke.”
Overall, the Elis had mixed feelings concerning their results from the trip down south. But team members seemed very satisfied with their last two contests. The victory against UNC-Greensboro came after the tough loss at Florida Atlantic and the 7-0 loss to Duke was actually a strong showing for the Bulldogs, especially in the doubles matches.
“We ended on a strong note,” Srinath said, “defeating UNC-Greensboro 7-0 after not practicing for three days, and then challenging top five ranked Duke for the doubles point as well as in a couple of the singles matches.”
The Elis play next this Saturday, when they head up to Boston to play Boston College.
“BC is a hot team right now,” Yale head coach Chad Skorupka said. “If we play together as a team like we did in our last match versus Duke we will be successful.”