W. TENNIS | Win helps Yale’s tourney chances

Jessica Rhee ’10 defeated Brown’s Cassandra Herzberg 6-0. 5-7. 6-4 in No. 2 singles on Saturday.
Jessica Rhee ’10 defeated Brown’s Cassandra Herzberg 6-0. 5-7. 6-4 in No. 2 singles on Saturday. Photo by Melissa Cail.

Though Ivy League competition for the women’s tennis team has ended, the team’s season may be far from over.

No. 48 Yale’s (16–6, 5–2 Ivy) 5–2 win over No. 58 Brown (16–8, 4–3 Ivy) on Saturday will only help the team’s chances of receiving an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament this May.

The win followed last weekend’s disheartening loss to No. 45 Harvard (14–7, 6–1 Ivy) in which head coach Danielle McNamara had said she was disappointed by the team’s performance, especially in doubles. Against Brown, however, the team was able to turn things around, winning two of three doubles matches by a score of 8–1.

“We really killed them at twos and threes,” McNamara said. “We played solid just like we had played against Columbia and Cornell — [we] stuck to basics and executed our shots really well.”

The Elis came through with strong singles performances as well with Jessie Rhee ’10, Elizabeth Epstein ’13, Lindsay Clark ’11 and Sarah Lederhandler ’10 winning four of six matches for the team. At No. 2 and No. 3 singles, Rhee and Epstein both fought through three sets to ensure the Bulldog victory.

“I knew that we had to win one of those matches,” Epstein said. “I couldn’t really see how Jessie was doing, so I really trying to bear down and win my match and clinch it.”

The win was particularly sweet for Rhee and teammate Lederhandler, who were honored as part of the festivities for Senior Day.

“It was my last home match and it was a lot of fun to play,” the captain Lederhandler said. “Everyone did really well and it was a great feeling to go out on.”

Stevi Petrelli ’11 said the crowd was particularly supportive, filled with friends and family who came out for the seniors’ last match.

“We were just trying to honor them and all the success they’ve had here for the last four years,” Petrelli said.

Going forward, the team will take the next week off in hopes of recovering from some lingering injuries, including an ankle injury for Vicky Brook ’12 that prevented her from playing singles this weekend.

Next week, the team will resume practice in anticipation of May 4 when the NCAA tournament bracket will be announced. If the team is selected, the first round begins the weekend of May 14.

Coach MacNamara anticipates that teams ranked in the mid-forties and above will receive bids. Harvard, who had been ranked behind the Elis for most of the season, surpassed the Bulldogs following their 4-3 win last weekend and is now ranked No. 45. The fact that two additional Ivy teams could be competing in the tournament along with league champion Princeton is a testament to the increasing level of competition within the conference, McNamara said.

Still, many of the rankings will be subject to change as other conference championships take place next weekend.

“I think we’re going to be right on the border either way,” McNamara said. “We need to just keep preparing in case we get it.”

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