The women’s tennis team will not be Ivy League champions this year.
Despite a 6–1 win over No.53 Dartmouth (16–5, 3–3) on Friday, No. 46 Yale’s 4–3 loss No.56 Harvard (13–7 5–1) cleared the way for Princeton to clinch its second-straight Ivy League title with two wins this weekend. The Bulldogs (15–6, 4–2) entered this weekend in a four-way tie for second place but dropped to third behind the Crimson after the loss to their archrivals on Sunday.
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Head coach Danielle McNamara emphasized that both the Dartmouth and Harvard matches were very competitive.
“It was an extreme close and hard fought 6–1,” coach McNamara said of the win against the Big Green. “Especially at No.1 and No. 2 doubles, we were down and to come and back and to win that was great.”
After some close games, the Elis eventually took all three doubles matches to capture the doubles point. The competition that followed in the singles round was equally fierce. Three of the bottom four matches went to three sets, and Yale’s Jessica Rhee ’10, Stevi Petrelli ’11 and Lindsay Clark ’11 ultimately all emerged victorious.
When the Elis returned home to face Harvard, the doubles point proved once again to be a good indicator of the outcome of the match. While Epstein and Petrelli won at No.3 doubles, the No. 1 and No. 2 pairs both lost by scores of 8–3.
“We didn’t play very well in doubles, especially in one and two,” McNamara said.
Epstein explained the importance of the doubles point.
“It’s hard going into the singles knowing that you have to win four singles matches,” she said.
The Bulldogs came just one win short of the four singles victories they needed to make a come back. No. 1 Vicky Brook ’12, No. 3 Rhee and No. 6 Clark all won their matches, but their teammates were unable to do the same. Both Petrelli and Epstein fell in three sets.
This weekend’s loss to Harvard was unfortunately reminiscent of last season’s Yale-Harvard match-up. In that match, the Crimson defeated the Yale by a score of 5–2, costing the Elis the conference championship. Had the Bulldogs won the match, they would have tied with Princeton for first place in the league.
The results of last year’s matchup and the fact the Bulldogs had beaten Harvard 6–1 earlier this season at the ECAC tournament made Sunday’s loss all the more difficult, players said.
“We were definitely extremely disappointed with the results, especially since we’d beat them in February,” Petrelli said. “At the same time, all the matches were very close, so at the end of the day you have to give credit to Harvard for playing a good match.”
Princeton dashed Yale’s Ivy League title hopes for this season when they clinched the Ivy League title this weekend. The Tigers, who beat Yale 6–1 in a match earlier this season, completed a perfect 7–0 season with wins against unranked Columbia and Cornell, whom Yale defeated last weekend.
The Elis’ losses this weekend may negatively impact their national ranking, which the ITA will release on Tuesday afternoon. This number may in turn affect the team’s chances of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Coach McNamara had previously said that teams in the mid-40s and above are likely to receive bids for nationals.
Still, the team has other goals in mind.
“Right now we’re playing for an NCAA bid, but also all of us really just want to go out with a bang and end on a high note beating Brown,” Epstein said.
The Bulldogs wrap up their Ivy League season at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center at noon on Saturday when they take on the No. 62 Bears (16–7, 4–2). Brown is currently tied with Yale for third place in the Ivy League.