TENNIS | Men’s and women’s tennis grab wins

The men’s tennis team opened its spring season at home this weekend with three wins in as many matches. The women, meanwhile, split two matches in Michigan, continuing their spring schedule.

The men played their first matches of the New Year against the University of Southern Carolina Upstate, Georgetown and Stony Brook, breezing by all three opponents. It was clear that the downtime the men have had since the fall worked to their advantage.

USC Upstate put up a valiant fight, but was only able to hang onto the doubles point and one singles match for the day. Jeff Dawson ’09, Michael Caldwell ’09, Calvin Bennett ’11, Joel Samaha ’12 and Erik Blumenkranz ’12 snatched five of six singles matches, respectively, and only three sets over 15 matches were dropped.

“I think it took everyone a couple of games to get used to tournament play again,” Samaha said. “But once we got further into the weekend I think everyone felt confident after putting in the time during practice.”

The Elis agreed that the rough start against USC Upstate by losing the doubles point fueled their drive to win for the rest of the weekend.

Their improvements were present in the Georgetown match. Bulldogs stole victories in all six matches without dropping a single set. By the time the singles matches were over, the overall match was decided, so the doubles round was not played.

“It was a good reinforcement, proving that the hard practice we’ve been putting in over the last three weeks is paying off,” Dawson said.

The Bulldogs continued their untarnished set record on Sunday against Stony Brook, again keeping all sets and all matches in both the singles and doubles rounds.

Meanwhile, the women’s tennis team traveled to Michigan to battle it out against Western Michigan on Saturday and University of Michigan on Sunday.

Their second two-day event of the season began successfully on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over WMU in Kalamazoo, Mich. Of the three winning singles matches, not one set was lost. Jessica Rhee ’10, Vicki Brook ’12 and Sarah Lederhandler ’10 helped Yale achieve an ultimate majority in singles victories. The teams of Janet Kim ’09 and Jessica Rhee ’10 and Vicki Brook ’12 and Stevi Petrelli ’11 landed the doubles point for the day.

“Beating Western Michigan definitely gave us a lot of confidence going forward into the season,” Petrelli said.

But on Sunday, the Elis knew that their competition against the highly ranked UMich would be more about getting the experience of playing a great team than striving for a victory.

The Bulldogs were able to pick up only one win in the doubles matches but had no success in the singles matches against the No. 18-ranked Michigan.

“Our expectations for every match is to be able to walk out at the end and say we competed well and left everything on the court,” Petrelli said. “I think, across the board, we did a good job this weekend displaying just how tough our team really is.”

Lilian Nguyen ’09 said that the loss against such a strong team gave them the insight to how the women can continue to maximize their playing for the rest of the season.

This weekend the men will play in the ECAC Championships in Cambridge, Mass. The women will also take on ECAC action in Hanover, N.H.

“Playing at Harvard this weekend, we will get a true look at what we’ll face this season,” Dawson said. “We are definitely ready to compete and look forward to the opportunity.”

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