The women’s tennis team traveled to a warm North Carolina and split games against two devilish opponents over the weekend.
After falling 7–0 to the No.1 Duke Blue Devils on Saturday, the No. 49 Bulldogs bounced back Sunday, defeating the No.39 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a decisive 6–1 victory at the ITA Division I Women’s Kick-off Weekend.
The team was in high spirits as they returned home from Durham, N.C., on Sunday night, now with a record of 3–1 on the season.
“It takes a lot of time for people to really believe that they belong on a court with somebody that won a national championship last year,” head coach Danielle McNamara said.
Regardless of the outcome, the fact that team felt prepared to take on the best squad in the country bodes well for the Elis’ future, McNamara said.
Vicky Brook ’12 won the sole set for the Elis in her match against Elizabeth Plotkin. She said that after losing her first set 6–1, she decided to just relax and have fun, winning the second set 6–4.
“I just thought to myself I have nothing to lose,” Brook said. “And things started to come together.”
Brook was also proud of her teammates’ performances against Duke.
“The strength of our players was reflected in many of the close results that we had,” she said.
After a tough loss to the Blue Devils on Saturday, the Elis were back on the court against Demon Deacons the next day. Coming into the match, Wake Forest was ranked ten spots higher than the No. 49 Elis. The Bulldogs won five of six singles matches and two of three doubles matches against Wake Forest.
“Even though we lost to Duke, we were still really energetic and pumped to go into today and we turned out with a really good win,” Jessie Rhee ’10 said on Sunday night.
McNamara said winning the doubles point was key to the team’s success again this week. After Yale’s Brook and Lindsay Clark ’11 lost the first doubles match to Wake Forest, the Elis made a comeback. The duos of Rhee and Stephanie Kent ’12 as well as Stevi Petrelli ’11 and Elizabeth Epstein ’13 won two matches in a row to give the Bulldogs the first point before moving into singles competition.
The tenacity the team showed in their come-from-behind doubles victory also played a role in the singles matches. Rhee, the No. 3 seed, defeated her opponent in straight sets with scores of 6–3, 6–1.
But it took three hard-fought sets for the Bulldogs to bring down the Demon Deacons in their other four singles victories.
In the second seed round, Brook bested Kathryn Talbert 7–6 (4), 4–6, 6–4. No. 4 singles Petrelli won 6–2, 4–6, 6–0, and No.6 singles Clark triumphed 5–7, 6–1, 6–1.
Yale’s final victory came from freshman recruit Epstein who lost her first set 3–6 but came back, winning the last two sets, 6–4, 6–3.
“In those that went into three sets, we won every single one of them for a lot of reasons,” McNamara said. “I think we were mentally tougher and physically tougher than they were.”
McNamara said that over the four years she has coached at Yale the team’s mental toughness has increased, which allowed the Bulldogs to upset Wake Forest on Sunday.
The Bulldogs will have only two days of practices in preparation for next weekend when the team will play at home for the first time this season. On Feb. 5, they will host UMass at 6 p.m. in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center and then take on Memphis University on Feb. 7 at 12 p.m.
“I think as long as we compete the way we did this past weekend,” Rhee said, “we’re going to come out on top.”