The die has been cast.
In its Ivy League opener at home Sunday afternoon, the women’s tennis team (5-8, 1-0 Ivy) edged past Brown (9-5, 0-1) in a nail-biting win, 4-3.
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Playing with both Sarah Lederhandler ’10 and Lauren Ritz ’11 back in the singles lineup after the much-anticipated go-ahead from their physical trainers, the Bulldogs captured four singles victories to upset the Bears’ eight-match winning streak.
Despite a win at No. 2 doubles by Jessica Rhee ’10 and Janet Kim ’09, who rallied to a decisive 8-1 victory, the Bulldogs dropped the remaining doubles matches and headed into singles play down a point.
But Yale would prove to be the tougher team.
“Before our match, we all made makeshift Ivy Championship rings to wear on our fingers to remind us of what we were fighting for,” Silia DeFilippis ’11 said. “That small piece of tape on our fingers was a constant reminder of our preparation and our desire to win.”
Lindsey Dashiell ’08 agreed, adding that the other Ivy League squads prove tougher opponents each year.
“I expected [Brown] to be tenacious,” she said, “but at the match, the point really became salient how much everyone had improved.”
In singles action, freshmen Ritz and Lindsay Clark ’11 cruised to early victories, defeating their respective opponents, 6-1, 6-1.
At the No. 2 spot, Rhee clinched her first set in a tiebreaker. She rode the momentum to shut out Brown’s Sarah Mansur in the second set, winning 7-6 (2), 6-0.
“That’s where it’s all mental,” Dashiell said.
At Nos. 4 and 5, victory did not come quite as easily, as the Bulldog players fought into third sets. Although their matches had opposite results — Lederhandler lost at No. 4 while Stevi Petrelli ’11 won at No. 5 — both players, in Dashiell’s words, “had their battle.”
Lederhandler lost her first set in a tiebreaker before fighting back for a decisive victory in the second set. In the end, however, the sophomore lost to Brown’s Tanja Vucetic, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.
“Even though I would have liked to have pulled out that third set,” Lederhandler said, “I was just glad to be back on the court … fighting for every point.”
Long after all the other matches had been decided — and with the overall score tied at 3-3 — Petrelli’s match drew a crowd of onlookers as both teams rooted for their player to come through to clinch the match.
“It was high stress, high impact,” Dashiell said of the final matchup. “But we have been taught that you want to be the last player out there. This is what we play for.”
Despite cramping and receiving courtside care from her trainer, Petrelli fought through pain for an important victory, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4.
“After winning the match, the smile that came over her face was priceless,” DeFilippis said of her teammate. “Her performance is one for the record books.”
Brown’s head coach Paul Wardlaw declined to comment on the match.
With momentum from Sunday’s victory, the Elis look forward to their upcoming matchups this weekend, at home against Penn at 2 p.m. Friday and Princeton at noon Saturday.