The tennis season opened with a bang as the women’s and men’s tennis teams began individual match play. The women, led by Janet Kim ’09, stormed to impressive victories while the men chugged through early stumbles but managed to turn in some noteworthy performances.
This weekend, the men were at Princeton, N.J., participating in the Princeton/Farnsworth Invitational. Meanwhile, the women were in Philadelphia, Penn., competing in the 2007 Cissie Leary Invitational. Both events were individual entries, with each player competing on his or her own against players from other schools, without winning points for the team.
The women’s tennis team had a phenomenal showing at the Invitational, which culminated in Janet Kim ’09 winning the main draw, Sarah Lederhandler ’10 winning the consolation draw, and the team not losing a match on Sunday.
On Sunday, Kim won the tournament with two straight set victories in the semifinals and finals. In her final three matches of the weekend, she defeated Penn’s top-two ranked singles players as well as Virginia Tech’s top-ranked player in the final.
“Janet just kept playing better and better,” said Lilian Nguyen ’09. “The first match is usually our weakest, but we came out really strong.”
Lederhandler ’10 won the consolation tournament. Having lost in the second round of the tournament’s main draw, Lederhandler won four straight matches in the final two days to walk away with the prize.
“The team worked really hard,” said Nguyen. “We definitely worked the hardest of any of the Ivies. The matches were at Penn, and they have a big team.”
The freshmen performed valiantly in their first intercollegiate matches. Lauren Ritz ’11 and Lindsay Clark ’11 won the consolation doubles tournament with two 8-2 victories over Princeton and Columbia, respectively. Clark also performed well in singles competition, defeating Penn’s third-ranked player.
The team won all of its Sunday matches in both the main and consolation draws, and the enthusiasm was palpable.
“This was just a great weekend,” Nguyen said.
The men’s team left New Jersey with a few triumphs and more confidence in its freshmen. No. 5 seed Michael Caldwell ’09 advanced to the quarterfinals of the “A” Flight Singles draw. He ground out a victory in a punishing match, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, against Princeton’s Alex Krueger-Wyman on Friday only to lose his quarterfinal match in equally dramatic fashion in a third-set super tie-breaker.
Yale’s two starting freshman, Calvin Bennet ’11 and Ryan Berman ’11, both advanced to the quarterfinals of the “B” Flight Singles draw. Having graduated a number of seniors, including captain and standout Brandon Wai ’07, captain Rory Green ’08 said the team will need its freshmen to deliver.
“We had impressive games from our two freshmen,” he said. “Apart from that, everyone gave a great effort.”
Green won his first match of the weekend but lost his second to Columbia’s Justin Chow, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.
Otherwise, the first day was a tough one for the Bulldogs, especially in their doubles performances. In the “A” Flight Doubles draw, Caldwell and Connor Dawson ’10 lost in the first round to Columbia’s top-ranked doubles team, and Jeff Dawson ’09 and Josh Lederman ’09 lost their first-round match against Penn.
Tom Santoro ’09 won his first-round match against Weston Nichols of Cornell before losing to Princeton’s Jeff Luse. Santoro was optimistic and said he thought the team members performed well in preparation for team competition.
“Next up are the ECACs,” he said. “We are [working] to get ready for team tournaments [in the spring] and dual matches against other schools. The ECACs are the highlight of the fall schedule.”
The women will next compete on September 28 at the ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The men will next play on September 28 at the ECAC Team Championships in Flushing, N.Y.