Despite multiple chances to close out No. 4 Trinity College, No. 3 Yale was handed its first loss of the season after falling in the final thriller of a match.
Tied at 4–4, the ultimate matchup came down to the No. 1 spot and Millie Tomlinson ’14, ranked second in the nation. She valiantly battled Trinity’s Kanzy El Defrawy, but could not prevail in extra points in the decisive fifth set. Tomlinson was relentless, losing the first game 9–11 only to rally back to win the second 11–8 and the third 13–11, to then falter 3–11 and 9–11 in the fourth and fifth games. Yale had not lost to Trinity (10–1) since 2010.
From the start, the deep Yale (9–1, 2–0 Ivy) roster put on a show in a roller coaster ride of a matchup. Shihui Mao ’15 played in the third position and Gwen Tilghman ’14 at the sixth to open the contest for the Bulldogs, though Trinity took down both Mao and Tilghman after four close games.
It took Anne Ballaine ’16 at No. 9 to record the first point for Yale with a convincing three-game win. After creating a new game plan with head coach Dave Talbott, Ballaine said her mental power helped her prevail and overcome Trinity’s wild crowd and home-court advantage.
“This match showed me that no matter where you are in the lineup or how old you are, every match counts just as much as the next. I really wanted to pull out a win,” Ballaine said.
Entering the second half of competition, the visiting Bulldogs saw Kim Hay ’15 lose in a well-fought four-game match at the No. 2 spot. Yale bounced back with three consecutive game wins started by Lilly Fast ’14 at the fifth position, who kept Yale’s hopes alive after a four-match win.
Anne Harrison ’15 followed Fast’s victory and dug deep with skill and guile that paid off in a decisive four-game win of her own.
“Before I went on to play, I didn’t ask what the score was because I wanted to focus on my match and my opponent. I always knew it was going to be close [between us and Trinity], but I didn’t think that we’d be down two matches before I went on,” Harrison said.
Her win, combined with Fast’s, brought the visiting Bulldogs even at 3–3.
The thrilling night rolled on when Issey Norman-Ross ’15 soundly won her match in four games to secure a Yale lead of 4–3. Team captain Katie Ballaine ’13 suffered a hard-fought loss in her match, bringing the Bantam to an even score at 4–4. The dramatic competition closed with Trinity clinching the victory in the final match in a five-game nail-biter with Tomlinson.
Team members said that lessons can be learned from adversity. Annie Ballaine and Harrison said the loss is, in a sense, a gain, as the Bulldogs now have something to prove.
“Although it was tough losing to Trinity, I think it will really help us in the long run. It definitely gives us motivation to get in some extra sessions and work hard before the weekend [versus Princeton],” Harrison said.
Heading back into league competition, Yale, still undefeated in Ivy play, will face No. 1 Princeton on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Brady Squash Center at noon.