Despite a stunning 4–2 win over No. 19 Ole Miss, the No. 28 Bulldogs fell to No. 25 Vanderbilt and failed to advance through the ITA Kick-Off Weekend Jan. 27 and 28.
Fighting for a spot at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the team got off to a strong start Sunday against the Rebels, with Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and partner Annie Sullivan ’14 taking an 8–4 win for the Bulldogs at No. 1 doubles. Although the Bulldogs conceded the No. 2 doubles point, captain Elizabeth Epstein ’13 and Blair Seideman ’14 followed in close suit with a hard-fought 8–6 win at No. 3.
With the opening of the singles matches, the Rebels valiantly tried to recover their deficit and ended up dealing losses to both Hamilton and Seideman. After this setback, Bulldogs Epstein, Hanna Yu ’15 and Sullivan all took down their singles opponents, with Epstein prevailing 7–6, 6–7, 6–2 after a particularly close fight in the second spot. The string of wins was enough to take Yale into the final round of the tournament.
Team members said that defeating Old Miss has significantly impacted the beginning of their spring season, as the team is walking away from the tournament with a lot of confidence.
“To beat University of Mississippi on their home courts is a great way to start the season,” Epstein said. “We are a tough team, and it definitely showed this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt triumphed over No. 27 Illinois to make it to the final round. While the Elis count doubles as their special strength, they quickly ran into trouble with the Commodores.
No. 3 Epstein and Seideman, who have been rock solid this season, lost their match 8–1, while Hamilton and Sullivan also fell in the No. 1 spot.
Hamilton turned this loss around by ousting Marie Casares 6–2, 4–6, 6–3 in the No. 1 spot in the singles. Despite the comeback, No. 2 Epstein and No. 3 Seideman lost their respective matches in straight sets to give the Commodores a 3–1 lead. Vanderbilt sealed the victory after Yu fell 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 to Georgina Sellyn at No. 4.
Epstein said the Bulldogs were somewhat unlucky not to pull through after losing a couple close matches that didn’t go their way.
Sullivan acknowledged the team’s disappointment at not making it through to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships next month but said she thinks they can take a lot from the experience.
“Although we are upset we didn’t upset Vanderbilt to advance, our team really came together this weekend,” she said. “We fought hard, endured through injuries and pulled out some great matches.”
Seideman said that the team has come together since the weekend and identified what they want to work on in practice.
“We’re taking a lot of positives from our performance and win against Ole Miss,” Seideman added.
Next up for the Bulldogs is the Florida International, which will be held at home in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center on Friday.