A little sun, a little fresh air and a lot of aggressive play was all it took for the women’s tennis team to disrupt its streak of losses with a much-deserved victory.
In their last match before heading into the Ivy League season, the Bulldogs (4-8) cruised past UMass (3-9) yesterday afternoon at home, 6-1.
Playing outdoors — and back at Yale’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center after an extended bout of matches and practices at Tennis Central in Woodbridge, Conn. because of renovations — the Elis celebrated a tangible end result of their tough schedule over spring break.
Lindsey Dashiell ’08 said she was proud that the team utilized the net-focused style of play that has been a focus during practices, which allowed the Bulldogs to easily claim the doubles point.
“We have been taught to set up the point for a short ball so that you can come in to the net and finish the point,” she explained.
And, as the doubles decision proved, the Bulldogs were taught well.
Janet Kim ’09 and Jessica Rhee ’10 flew to an early victory at No. 2 doubles, winning 8-1. Dashiell and Stevi Petrelli ’11 clinched the doubles point for the Bulldogs with a 8-2 outcome in their match at No. 3.
Lauren Ritz ’11 returned to doubles play at the No. 1 spot after being sidelined with an injured shin. She said despite the chilly winds, she was thrilled to be back on the courts.
In singles action, five out of six Yale players led their matches after the first set, later materializing into straight-set wins at Nos. 1-5 singles.
At the top position, Kim won in a closely fought match against her Minutewoman opponent, Masha Pozar. Although Kim got off to a slow start, her on-point serve went unanswered multiple times to add a handful of aces, ensuring her win, 6-3, 6-4.
On an adjacent court at No. 2, Rhee cruised to a fast first-set victory. Her second set, characterized by long, fast-paced rallies tempered by wide-angle shots tainted with backspin. Head coach Danielle Lund could be heard advising Rhee from the sideline, “Get to the net, Jess… .” The sophomore heeded the suggestion — much to the visible frustration of her opponent — and clinched the match, 6-0, 6-3.
Petrelli was the first to finish, in part because of her noticeably aggressive style of play. A notable forehand smash at the net elicited cheers from onlookers. She won at the No. 4 position, 6-2, 6-2.
Lindsay Clark ’11 also contributed to the win with a 6-4, 6-1 decision at No. 3, while captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 romp of her opponent at No. 5.
However, at the No. 6 spot, Silia DeFilippis ’11 found difficulty, losing 6-3, 6-2. Although the new addition to the team has yet to win a match, Dashiell commended her fortitude.
“She’s totally a fighter,” Dashiell said.
After the match, UMass head coach Judy Dixon said the Minutewomen competed well against a tough team.
“The wind tends to favor teams with good footwork,” she said in recognition of the Bulldogs’ agility on the courts. “Yale plays within their limits. They are calm players … and I give them credit for that.”
Lund, on the other hand, said she was proud of the Elis’ intensity in their matches.
“We have been practicing different formations — coming to the net, poaching — and it was nice to see that on the competition court,” she said.
Lund said she is looking forward to Sunday’s matchup against Brown, where the Bulldogs hope to translate the day’s confidence boost to a victory over their first Ivy foe.
Yale will face the Bears at noon on Sunday at home.