It was a wild first week of Ivy action for the women’s tennis team. The Bulldogs walked dejectedly off the courts after a stunning loss Friday, only to storm the courts in celebration of one of their biggest wins in recent memory Saturday.
Yale (7-5, 1-1) returned from its weekend road trip having endured the most intense competition it has scheduled for this season, and the results were mixed. The Elis suffered a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the University of Pennsylvania (8-5, 2-0) but redeemed themselves the following day with a heart-stopping 4-3 win over Princeton, the defending league champions.
The loss to the Quakers set up Sunday’s showdown for second-place standing between the Bulldogs and the Tigers. For both teams, another loss meant virtual elimination from the Ivy championship race. The Bulldogs responded to the challenge by holding off Princeton, but it was a struggle to the end.
Yale recorded the first point with two doubles victories. The No. 1 doubles team of Biffy Kaufman ’03 and Andrea Goldberg ’02 crushed the formidable duo of Priya Bhupathi and Kavitha Krishnamurthy 8-2. Susie Hiniker ’03 and Margaret Purcell ’04 teamed up for an 8-4 win over Mateya McCoy and Kristi Watson, while Ashley Martin and Karlyn Martin, two freshman twins, lost a close match 8-6 to Avantika Bhagava and Gailor Large.
“[Our] doubles match with Princeton was great,” Goldberg said. “We played some of our best doubles [and the point] was a huge boost going into singles.”
The Bulldogs continued to roll after the doubles matches, as Kaufman, Hiniker and Martin each won 6-4, 6-2 to secure the Bulldogs’ victory. Hiniker played the day’s final match with the outcome in the balance. For three match points, she struggled with Princeton’s Bhupathi.
“Each [rally] was at least 20 shots long, and Susie’s opponent was incredibly tough,” Eli head coach Meghan McMahon said. “When Susie ripped the final backhand to win the third match point, the Yale team rushed the court. It was one of the most exciting moments I’ve had in 10 years of college coaching.”
Hiniker stayed focused despite the crowd’s growing enthusiasm.
“I was excited to be in the position of getting to clinch the match for us,” Hiniker said. “We haven’t beaten Princeton in a long time so it’s kind of nice to get that monkey off our back.”
Purcell nearly ended the drama from the No. 2 singles position, but lost to Large 4-6, 7-6, 1-0 (4) in yet another close three-setter for the freshman as seven of her 12 matches have gone the distance. At No. 1 singles, Goldberg fell to Krishnamurthy, last season’s Ivy League player and rookie of the year, 6-0, 6-1. And Oosterhuis lost 6-1, 6-1 to Anne Coates.
Pennsylvania, who defeated Princeton 6-1 earlier in the week, asserted themselves as the Ivy League’s team to beat, losing only three sets to the Bulldogs in a dominating and near-flawless performance the day before.
“They played unbelievably well at every position,” McMahon said. “In watching four matches closely, I saw maybe four unforced errors total from the Penn players.”
The two bright spots for Yale were a 0-6, 7-6, 1-0 (8) come-from-behind win by Liz Oosterhuis ’02 over Rachel Shweky and an 8-6 doubles victory by the freshman Martin twins over the Sanela Kunovac and Nicole Ptak. Oosterhuis was down 5-1 and fended off three match points before starting her run.
Yale’s next match is Friday versus Columbia.