WOMEN’S TENNIS | Bulldogs defend home court

After taking down Cornell and Columbia, the No. 37 Elis brought their home-winning streak to 33 this weekend.
After taking down Cornell and Columbia, the No. 37 Elis brought their home-winning streak to 33 this weekend. Photo by Samantha Gardner.

The No. 37 women’s tennis team brought its home winning streak to 33 this weekend, notching victories over New York Ivies Cornell and Columbia.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs (14–2, 3–0 Ivy) continued their quest for a third-straight Ivy title with a 6–1 win over Cornell (13-3, 2-3 Ivy).  The next day, they defeated Columbia (11–5, 4–1 Ivy) in a closer 5–2 victory. Hanna Yu ’15 said that thanks to the team’s close bond and challenging training schedule, the Bulldogs feel in great shape as they approach the end of the season.

“We have worked up to this time of the year, putting in many hours in practice, strength and conditioning,” she said. “Our coaches have pushed us every day, getting us better, fitter and stronger physically and mentally.”

The team emerged victorious against Cornell despite tough doubles opposition. Team captain Elizabeth Epstein ’13 and Annie Sullivan ’14 took down their opponents 9-8 in the No. 1 spot and Courtney Amos ’16 and Yu won 9-7 at No. 3, though Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and Amber Li ’15, the No. 2 pairing, succumbed 8-9 to the Big Reds.

With the doubles point secured, the Elis faced a string of tight singles matches. Epstein, currently ranked No. 64 in the nation for singles, put in a solid performance at No. 1 by defeating Cornell’s Sarah O’Neil 6-3, 6-4. At No. 2, Hamilton prevailed in another close encounter, winning her match 11-9 in a super tiebreak. At No. 5, Li was unable to close out against the Big Red’s Laila Judeh, losing 5-7, 4-6.

Continuing the dominant tennis she has displayed this season, Sullivan won comfortably 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3.

“Annie [Sullivan] has especially been playing very dominant tennis,” she said. “She is undefeated this season and was the first singles match off against both Cornell and Columbia.”

After their relatively comfortable win against Cornell, the Bulldogs moved into Sunday with confidence in their line-up. Columbia, then the only other undefeated team in the conference, got off to a strong start by winning both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles 8–3. Once it became clear the Lions had secured the doubles point, the No. 2 match was left unfinished at 6-6.

Despite the rocky start, Yale made a rapid comeback in the singles. Hamilton snatched a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 2, with No. 3 Sullivan and No. 4 Yu trumping their opponents 6-1, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-2 respectively. While Epstein was defeated at No. 1, Li and Amos enjoyed relatively comfortable wins in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. The push in the singles ultimately gave the Bulldogs a 5-2 victory.

Hamilton said that although Columbia is a much-improved team from last year, the Bulldogs were quick to make an impact following the doubles.

“I thought coming into the singles we got off to a very good start,” Hamilton said. “We were really focused and played with a lot of intensity. We showed them how tough of a team we are overall.”

The Bulldogs will return to the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center this Friday, when they take on Dartmouth.

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