This weekend, the women’s tennis team did something it had not done since 2007: lose a match at home.
The No. 36 Bulldogs (9–2) started off strong Saturday morning when they beat No. 32 William & Mary by a score of 5–2 at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, but Sunday’s 6–1 loss to No. 20 Vanderbilt snapped the team’s 23-match home winning streak.
“Even though we lost to Vanderbilt on Sunday, we really took a lot out of the match,” Vicky Brook ’12 said.
Brook and her teammates said while Saturday’s win was a great victory for the team, Sunday’s match highlighted areas in need of improvement for the team such as doubles play, winning key points and playing aggressively.
Yale won two of three doubles matches to capture the doubles point in Saturday’s match against William & Mary, and singles victories from Vicky Brook ’10, Jessica Rhee ’12, Elizabeth Epstein ’13 and Lindsay Clark ’11 accounted for the team’s other four points.
Team members said their victory in last weekend’s ECAC tournament gave them an extra boost going into this weekend’s matches against ranked opponents.
“We went into the match with a lot of confidence from the weekend before, and we really used that confidence to play well,” Brook said.
Although the Elis lost to Vanderbilt by a score of 6–1 on Sunday, team members emphasized that the match was much closer than the final tally might indicate.
“The overall score I think was a little deceiving just because we had so many close matches that we didn’t pull out,” head coach Danielle McNamara said.
The No.3, No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches each went into third sets, but Yale was unable to come away with a point from any of them. McNamara attributed this to Vanderbilt’s ability to prolong sets by returning shots that opposing teams might not be able to get to.
Captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10 also said Vanderbilt, who lost No. 63 Princeton on Saturday, took the court aggressively, looking to prove themselves after the disappointing loss on the day before.
McNamara said she was surprised by Princeton’s win over Vanderbilt. Nevertheless, she said she is optimistic about the upcoming match between the Bulldogs and the Tigers.
“We’re very familiar with them,” McNamara said. “I know they’re a good team. I know they’re deep, but I know when we play them in April we won’t be intimidated by them at all.”
Yale’s lone point in Sunday’s match came from Stevi Petrelli ’11, who won the No. 4 singles match against Vanderbilt’s Keilly Ulery.
“I just had a few breaks here and there, which helped me to win the second set, especially, which ended in a tiebreak,” Petrelli said. “I just buckled down on those key game points and was able to pull out the win.”
The loss against Vanderbilt was only the team’s second loss on the season. On Jan. 30, the Bulldogs lost to then No. 1 Duke University by a score of 7–0.
The Bulldogs will have a weekend off before they face unranked Western Michigan at 11 a.m. on March 7 at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. That week the team will also travel to Florida, where they will take on No. 33 South Florida and Florida International.
The Elis will focus on strength and conditioning this week in preparation for their first outdoor matches of the season in Florida.
“Obviously it’s a lot hotter down there, and we want to be in the best shape we can,” Brook said.