Over-confidence can be destructive in the sports arena, but it did not hinder the game of the women’s tennis team this weekend.
The No. 57 Bulldogs (2-0) performed with both racket and broom as they swept aside unranked University of Massachusetts (0-2) in their home-opener with an impressive 7-0 win. Combined with last week’s victory over Boston University, the Bulldogs are an impressive 13-1 in two matches.
Key players were sidelined for both teams, but Yale’s depth was confirmed as the back-end of the roster stepped up and executed brilliantly in the juggled line-up.
Andrea Goldberg ’02, who plays No. 1 for the Bulldogs, was forced to sit out due to a right elbow injury. Margaret Purcell ’04 played in Goldberg’s spot for the first time this season and won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. Purcell demonstrated great control on her groundstrokes, and repeatedly moved her opponent, Helena Horak, off the court.
Biffy Kaufman ’03 played a third set tiebreaker for the second week in a row and won 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 against Jafra Depontes.
“Not a real thrilling match,” said Yale head coach Chad Skorupka. “I just think Biffy lost some focus in the first set but was able to turn her game around and dominate the second set and the super tiebreaker.”
Susie Hiniker ’02 defeated Stephanie Price in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3. Both players used a relentless strategy, matching power for power from the ground. But Hiniker was ultimately more aggressive and Price was consistently forced to play from behind.
“Price was better than we thought, but Susie just stepped it up a notch,” said captain Liz Oosterhuis ’02.
Also winning in straight sets were Karlyn Martin ’04 and Stephanie White ’05. In her debut on the court this season, rookie Reshmi Srinath ’05 finished off Alison Hagenbush 8-0 in a quick pro-set.
The Bulldogs were thoroughly dominating throughout their matches, pounding the ball from the baseline to the net.
“I was most impressed with their court demeanor and no-nonsense approach, even though there were some matches that they did not have to put forth their best effort,” UMass head coach Judy Dixon lauded.
The Eli women clinched the doubles point effortlessly by winning all three matchups. Playing at of the No. 1 spot, twin sisters Karlyn and Ashley Martin ’04 won 8-4, while Hiniker and White won 8-0. An ankle injury prevented Oosterhuis from playing in her usual No. 5 singles spot, but she teamed up with Kaufman and handily defeated the duo of Helen Horak and Susan Hyams 8-0.
“I think we went into today’s match very confident, but we kept trying to remind ourselves not to underestimate them,” said Oosterhuis, “Some of the matches were tighter than expected, but it was definitely an easy win, just as it seemed on paper.”
Though boosted by the victory, the Bulldogs are hard at work, preparing for Sunday’s match-up against nationally-ranked Boston College. Both Oosterhuis and Goldberg are expected to be back in the lineup.
“We will be having what I call ‘focused practices’ leading up to Sunday,” said Skorupka. “We just want to get better with each match and be at the top of our game for the Ivy League campaign.”
The team hopes to be undefeated by the time spring break rolls around. If the professional attitude of the women, the zeal of the coach and the sparkling record are accurate indications, the Bulldogs will be a fierce threat in the league.
“We have set some good goals to accomplish step-by-step this season and one of those is to win a place in the NCAA tournament,” said Kaufman, echoing the sentiment of her captain and teammates. “If we can stay healthy and continue to work hard, then I think it is definitely a possible and realistic goal.”