W. TENNIS | Bulldogs shut out St. John’s

It looks like the women’s tennis team is getting into the swing of things.

The Bulldogs followed a 7-0 shutout victory against Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday by trouncing St. John’s in New Haven on Saturday. The wins were the Elis’ second and third official victories this winter and brought their home winning streak to 16 matches, dating back to the 2006 season.

Yale got off to a strong start, winning all three doubles matches the team played. The duos of Jessica Rhee ’10 and Janet Kim ’09, Stevi Petrelli ’11 and Sarah Lederhandler ’10, and captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 and Lauren Ritz ’11 won 8-1, 8-3 and 8-5, respectively.

“I thought this weekend went really well,” Petrelli said. “We all went in knowing that we could win every match and we did a really good job of executing everything we had practiced.”

Nguyen said the momentum the women gained from the past two matches this season gave them the confidence they needed to compete fiercely this weekend and will drive their desire for a championship title.

“Starting the season with a 3-0 record is always a good thing,” Nguyen said. “We’ve been preparing hard in practice, and playing well in our matches, so that gives us confidence heading into February, which is a tough month of competition and traveling.”

Kim said the women have been focusing on reducing the number of unforced errors and loose mistakes by playing smart and choosing the right shot at the right time without getting put on the defensive.

On the singles side of Saturday’s match, the Elis gained all the glory, winning all six matches and dropping only one of 13 sets in the process.

Nguyen fought a hard battle in the sixth singles position, losing the first set 4-6 but coming back in the last two sets 7-5 and 10-7.

“It was a tough match for me — my opponent was a deceptively good player,” Nguyen said. “I knew I needed to play aggressively and just keep fighting, even when I was down a set and 5-3.”

But the Bulldogs say that they have the ability to cheer each other on in the toughest fights. With a team of only eight members, the women’s talent is formidable, as is their team spirit. The Elis say they could not be more confident in their teammates.

“It’s so much easier to compete as hard as you possibly can in your match, knowing all your teammates are doing the same in their matches,” Kim said.

In the coming weekend, the Bulldogs will compete in back-to-back matches against Western Michigan on Saturday and University of Michigan on Sunday in Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor, Mich., respectively. The women said they feel confident that their winning streak will follow them from the east coast to the Midwest as they strive for two road wins.

“I think we’re all really excited because it’s a great opportunity,” Petrelli said. “They’re both highly ranked teams and we really want to be competitive with them and show them how hard we’ve been working and hopefully turn out a W.”

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