Often the sports world is unpredictable. This weekend, however, the 19th Annual ECAC Division I Women’s Invitational Tennis Championship played out as expected Sunday in Princeton, N.J.
The top four seeds in the 16-team tournament — Harvard, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale –reached the semifinals as expected. The Bulldogs, seeded No. 4, fell to top seed and eventual champion Harvard.
The Elis began the semifinal matchup by narrowly losing the doubles point. In the No. 3 doubles match, Margaret Purcell ’04 and Stephanie White ’05 started off strongly by taking a 5-2 lead but were unable to hold on and lost the match, 8-7. The Bulldogs lost the first and second doubles matches as well, 8-5 and 8-4, respectively.
“The girls were really determined to win the Harvard match,” first-year head coach Chad Skorupka said. “We had some opportunities to hold the doubles point, but we couldn’t carry the momentum.”
In singles action, Yale captured only one point, the No. 3 spot. Purcell dominated Harvard’s Alexis Martire in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3. In the other matches, White at No. 6 and Biffy Kaufman ’03 at No. 2 were the only other Bulldogs to win a set.
“We were all a little disappointed about losing to Harvard,” Purcell said. “But we played as hard as we could and left thinking that we could have won the match.”
Susie Hiniker ’03 said the loss will benefit the Bulldogs down the road.
“The Harvard match was close,” Hiniker said. “Even though we lost, we were in there until the end, which gives us confidence for the spring.”
The Bulldogs found more success in the quarterfinals Friday against host Princeton, seeded No. 8. After sweeping all of the doubles matches to earn the doubles point, Yale won four of the six singles matches to advance to the semifinals with a 5-2 victory.
“Defeating Princeton and advancing to the semifinals was an overall success,” Skorupka said. “The girls came out firing in the doubles and then carried over the momentum to the singles. The match was over pretty fast.”
Five of the six singles matches were one-sided affairs. In the only match to go three sets, Kaufman, playing No. 2, lost in a third set tie-breaker, 10-8.
Andrea Goldberg ’02 lost in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0 in the top-seeded game, but the Bulldogs swept positions No. 3 through No. 6 to put away the Tigers. Purcell, the only Yale player to win all of her singles matches during the championships, recorded the most convincing of all the Bulldogs’ victories when she trounced Priya Bhupati 6-0, 6-0.
“I thought I was playing really well,” Purcell said. “Overall, I think we scared a couple of teams. In the spring we won’t have a lot of pressure, but we will have the confidence to succeed.”
The Bulldogs began the competition also on Friday by destroying Rutgers in the first round, 7-0. The Yale squad did not drop one set in their nine matches.
After a couple of days of rest, the Bulldogs return to practice Wednesday to prepare for their next tournament the ITA Championships in Philadelphia, Oct. 27-30. The Elis will find out Monday which players on the team qualified for the event.