Bulldogs gnaw past Terriers

After a series of intense matches all around the country, the women’s tennis team finally returned from their longer-than-average road trip. Ten months, to be exact, as the squad was back to compete at home this past weekend for the first time since April 2006.

Yale (2-4) defeated No. 67 Boston University (5-1), 6-1, at the Cullman-Heyman Center. The victory over the Terriers on Saturday provided an ideal start to the Bulldogs’ home schedule, ending a two-game losing streak against two top-50 foes.

The win was a welcome turnaround following losses to Duke and North Carolina State last weekend.

“We had played a pretty tough schedule before this,” Lillian Nguyen ’09 said. “We were looking forward to playing a team not ranked in the top 30.”

The Bulldogs suffered a 4-3 loss against BU last year, and players said they were ready to avenge the tight road defeat. Before traveling to New Haven, BU had beaten Harvard, Columbia and Brown this season, so the matchup gave the Elis a chance to see where they stand versus their Ivy League foes.

“All the hard work paid off [this weekend],” Christina Cutter ’09 said. “Our coach was very excited, and we showed that we had been playing top competition before this. This was a really good confidence booster.”

Yale won two out of its three doubles matches to secure the point, with the senior combination of Christine Alford ’07 and captain Olivia Nix ’07 and the freshman duo of Sarah Lederhandler ’10 and Jessica Rhee ’10 both picking up victories.

Despite this weekend’s stellar performance, team members said the doubles lineup is not finalized yet. The coaches have been mixing up the various combinations, and players said their aim was to match up different personalities and styles.

“I think now that we have a tough win under the belt, it’s going to encourage us to work harder,” Cutter said. “We’ve achieved what the coaches have been telling us to achieve. Hopefully this is the beginning of many more wins.”

Team members said the victory over BU will give the them an edge against another team from Beantown this weekend, the Boston College Eagles. Last year, the Elis faced off against BC the day before their encounter with the Terriers and fell, 5-2. Alford said both Boston College and Boston University had facilities geared toward providing a strong home court advantage, and the Bulldogs hope to turn the tables this year.

“After a hard-fought weekend, we are confident,” Nguyen said. “We need to go out there and do the same thing and play same way. We also lost to them last year, so this will be our chance to get revenge.”

The Elis are excited for their next match on Friday, and sounded optimistic about the results of their first brief homestand of the 2006-’07 season — before they hit the road for another five weeks. Alford said both the BU and BC games were marked with big red circles on their schedules.

“Practice this week is going to be full of a lot of motivation and high energy on the courts,” she said. “Our initial record of 1-4 was in no way indicative, we’d played really tough teams before this. I think that was a big thing in the past weekends, and we have taken ourselves to the next level and were able to crush BU. I think we’re all definitely improving and heading in the right direction.”

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