In the midst of a close match against No. 15 Harvard on Friday, victory for the women’s tennis team seemed within reach. Halfway through the singles matches, the results were looking up — the Bulldogs were down 3-1, but the Elis were either winning or tied in the three remaining matches.
But, as has been typical of their season, the Bulldogs (8-9, 3-3) could not quite pull through, suffering a tough 6-1 loss against the Crimson (16-6, Ivy 5-0). Undaunted, the team traveled to Hanover, N.H., on Sunday to take on Dartmouth (5-13, 1-5), and their hard work finally translated into a decisive victory, crushing the Big Green 5-2.
Team members said they were happy with their performance against the Crimson, considering Harvard’s talent level and results this season.
“I think we actually did really well,” Christine Alford ’07 said. “It shows how a team like Yale, who is ranked in the 70s, can almost beat a team like Harvard.”
Alford said the 6-1 final score did not reflect how tight the matches actually were. The Bulldogs lost all three doubles matches by only two points, and singles players captain Olivia Nix ’07, Christina Cutter ’09 and Aimee Kim ’07 took their opponents into third sets.
Janet Kim ’09, who won both her singles matches this weekend in the No. 2 spot — 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 against the Crimson and 6-2, 6-1 against Dartmouth — said part of the problem plaguing the Bulldogs is a lack of self-assurance.
“We need more confidence and belief that we can win those close matches,” she said. “When we’re in those tight matches, we’re thinking, ‘Wow, I’m actually keeping up with this girl,’ rather than, ‘Wow, I can beat this girl.'”
The Bulldogs’ performances against the Big Green on Sunday should give them a morale boost. At first, the Elis got off to an uncharacteristically slow start and lost two out of the three doubles points.
But Janet Kim said that after a pep talk in between the doubles and singles matches, the team turned over a new leaf.
“The main problem the coaches saw was that everyone was being lazy and not playing with as much heart as they should have,” she said.
After re-evaluating their energy level, Alford said the team shifted into second gear. The Bulldogs lost only one singles match after that.
“We were looking for some revenge, looking to redeem ourselves,” Janet Kim said.
The Elis will finish their season with a match against Brown (5-12, 1-4) on Wednesday at home. The Bulldogs have already seen the Bears this year, playing them in a scrimmage this fall. Although Brown has been struggling this spring, Alford said their results do not reflect their strengths as a team.
“We know they’re good and strong,” she said. “You can’t underestimate them.”
While none of the Bulldogs players will be graduating this year, it will be the final competition for one crucial member of the team — Yale head coach Katie Granson.
Cutter said a victory in Granson’s last match and the final game of the season against Brown would be even sweeter.
“As a team, our one goal is to win and to finish the season out on a good note,” she said.