TENNIS | Bulldogs have no trouble over the weekend

Sarah Lederhandler ’10 won in straight sets.
Sarah Lederhandler ’10 won in straight sets. Photo by Melissa Cail.

For the women’s tennis team, there’s no place like home.

The No. 44 Bulldogs continued their winning ways this weekend, beating UMass and the University of Memphis at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center to extend their home winning streak to 22 matches.

The Elis brought down the UMass Minutewomen 7–0 on Friday night, but had to fight until the last match on Sunday afternoon when they clashed with the University of Memphis Tigers. The Bulldogs ultimately came out on top 4–3, improving their record to 5–1 on the season.

Playing at home for the first time this season, the Blue looked nearly flawless against UMass. They took two of three doubles matches to capture the doubles point and won all six singles matches to complete the sweep.

Vicky Brook ’12 said that while the team was expected win both matches this weekend, they did not take either of their opponents lightly.

“They’re strong teams with good players and great attitudes and they came out trying to upset us, but we put our heads down and didn’t let up on them,” she said.

After Friday’s win, the Bulldogs were challenged early on Sunday against the Tigers. The team began by losing the doubles point for just the second time this season. Brook and partner Lindsay Clark ’11 were the only Elis to win their match with a score of 8–2, while the duos of Stephanie Kent ’12 and Jessie Rhee ’10 and Elizabeth Epstein ’13 and Stevi Petrelli ’11 fell by scores of 7–9 and 8–9, respectively.

Senior Captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10 said that Memphis performed especially well in doubles, and she was proud of the way her team was able to bounce back from the initial defeat.

“We were able to put that behind us and get on the singles court and really just get the job done,” she said. “We didn’t give them the opportunity to capitalize on the fact that they won the doubles point because really it’s just one of seven points.”

The Elis earned all of their points against Memphis on the singles court, winning four matches each in straight sets. Brook, the No. 2 seed, began the turn around by defeating Memphis’ Courtney Collins 6–2, 6–3. No. 4 Petrelli and No. 6 Lederhandler both won their matches 6–3, 6–0. Freshman Epstein also triumphed over her opponent 6–2, 6–1.

The team’s 22-match home winning streak dates back to 2007, and the team has never lost at home during head coach Danielle McNamara’s tenure.

“We want to win every match home or away, but we have a lot of pride when we play at home,” Petrelli said. “We want to keep the streak going as long as we can.”

She and her teammates said the level of familiarity they have with the home courts helps as well.

Players also added that support the team receives from fans at home matches has also been key to its success. The home-court advantage was less apparent on Sunday, however, due to a large contingency of Memphis fans who came out for the match. Lederhandler said the Memphis fans were loud to the point of being obnoxious, but the Bulldogs were able to focus despite the distractions.

Next weekend, the team will head north to Cambridge, Mass., for the ECAC Indoor Championships. Brook stressed the importance of matches the team will play next weekend, saying the tournament should be a good preview of how the team will fare against Ivy League foes later in the season.

“A lot of pride is on the line for this tournament,” she said. “Not only did we win it last year, but we will be competing against rivals such as Harvard and Princeton.”

MEN’S TENNIS

Although not at home, the men’s tennis team didn’t have any trouble with Army on Sunday, defeating the Black Knights 6–1 in West Point, N.Y.

The Bulldogs (2–1) won five of the six singles matches and the doubles point in what was a dominating victory despite not being at full strength. Connor Dawson ’10 and Calvin Bennett ’11 missed the match for the Elis.

“It was tough because we had two guys out this week, but everybody moved up in the lineup a little bit,” Erik Blumenkraz ’12 said. “We were matched differently but it worked out well.”

Blumenkraz teamed up with Jordan Abergel ’11 to defeat Tripp Johnson and Alex Holland, 8–3, in No. 2 doubles. In No. 5 singles, Blumenkraz defeated Rashad Shelton, 6–1, 6–3 to sweep his two matches.

Marc Powers ’13, John Huang ’13 and Daniel Hoffman ’13 were the other three Bulldogs to win in both doubles and singles.

In No. 1 singles, Powers handled Johnny Lucero, 6–1, 6–1, and alongside Joel Samaha ’12 beat Lucero and Chris Albornoz, 8–4, in No. 1 doubles.

Huang and Hoffman defeated Andrew Clark and Shelton in No. 3 doubles to go with singles victories. In No. 2 singles, Huang beat Johnson, 6–2, 7–6, while Hoffman topped Holland, 6–3, 6–4.

Army’s only win on the day was Albornoz’s No. 3 singles win over Samaha, 4–6, 6–4, 10–6.

“We knew that Army was a team we should beat,” Samaha said. “It allowed us to gain some confidence before ECACs.”

The ECAC indoor championships begin Friday.

Betsey di Bonaventura contributed reporting.

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