The No. 36-ranked Yale women’s tennis team took its season record to 11-2 by defeating Rutgers (10-6, 4-2 Big East) 6–1 at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center on Saturday.
In their last match before entering Ivy play, the Elis (11-2, 0-0 Ivy) secured the doubles point and proceeded to win five out of six of their singles matches. Team captain Elizabeth Epstein ’13 and Annie Sullivan ’14 continued their winning doubles streak with an easy 8–2 win in the No. 1 spot. Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and Amber Li ’15 at No. 2 and Hanna Yu ’15 and Courtney Amos ’16 in the No. 3 spot secured similarly comfortable 8–3 wins.
Sullivan said the Bulldogs have “worked really hard at improving” their doubles performance this season.
“Every match, we seem to be improving,” she said. “We have realized how important it is to go for our shots with confidence.”
The team mixed up its singles line-up by playing Epstein at No. 1 for the first time, followed by Hamilton at No. 2. Epstein — ranked the No. 45 player in the nation — ousted her opponent 6–2, 6–4, proving why she is ranked the top player in the Northeast.
Epstein said that the match against Rutgers was good preparation for the team’s progress into the Ivy conference.
“It was nice to be able to play another outdoor match before the start of the Ivy season,” she said. “The team is looking really strong. We are very excited to begin our quest for a third straight Ivy title.”
Hamilton’s 6-5 singles record in the No. 1 position this season stood her in good stead as she defeated the Scarlet Knights’ Gina Li 6–3, 7–5 at No. 2. At No. 3, Sullivan consolidated her doubles success with a 6–4, 6–1 victory, followed by winning performances from both Yu and Amos at the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively. Playing at No. 4, Li fought hard in the first set but was ultimately unable to overcome Rutgers’ Stefania Balasa, losing 4–6, 2–6.
The Bulldogs’ triumph came after a successful spring break, during which they placed third at the Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala. At the Classic, they notched impressive wins over then-No. 40 Ohio State and Pepperdine, but fell to the eventual champions, No. 47 Virginia.
A freshman, Hamilton said she is looking forward to playing against other Ivies for the first time and “showing them what our team is all about.”
“I know we are all very, very excited for Ivies this year,” she said. “I think our strategy is the same as it has been all season and the past couple years in that we want to execute our plays and really pressure our opponents.”
The team will be traveling to Princeton for its first Ivy match of the season April 5. The Bulldogs enter the Ivy conference as two-time defending champions and the highest-ranked team.