Equal doses of sunshine and competition greeted the women’s tennis team in California as they faced five west coast teams over spring break.
After competing against mediocre teams since the start of the season and compiling a spotless record, back-to back losses tested the resiliency of the No. 57 Bulldogs who responded by reeling off three straight victories.
“I don’t think playing the easier opponents weakened us,” captain Liz Oosterhuis ’02 said. “It simply didn’t prepare us for the spring trip.”
The Eli women opened the road trip with a 5-2 loss against University of California at Irvine (13-6), a team tied with Yale at No. 57 UCI is just the second ranked opponent the Bulldogs have faced this year. A crushing 4-3 defeat at the hands of No. 54 Long Beach State University (14-1) followed.
“Had we played Irvine and Long Beach later in the week, we probably would have won,” said Oosterhuis. “The jet lag and transition to playing outdoors weighed us down.”
In both matches, the Bulldogs were swept in the doubles round, giving their opponent a one-point lead and crucial momentum heading into singles play.
Quickly bouncing back, Yale emerged victorious at the University of California at Santa Barbara (3-15), and California State University at Northridge (8-8), winning 5-2 on both occasions. The women-in-blue wrapped up the trip emphatically, serving up a 6-1 defeat to the University of San Diego (0-15).
This yearly Golden State journey is used to gauge the team’s strengths. Biffy Kaufman ’03 and Stephanie White ’05, who won all five of their singles matches, are anchors at the No. 3 and No. 6 spots in the lineup, respectively, and promise to get better as the season progresses.
Margaret Purcell ’04, a fixture at No. 1, lost 4 out of 5 matches in California, but played doggedly against ranked opponents and took two of her defeats into a third-set tiebreaker.
Andrea Goldberg ’02 was 0-5 for the road trip, but was sidelined earlier this year with an arm injury.
“She missed a lot of practice time and her confidence level was low,” said Oosterhuis.
Addressing individual weaknesses with intense practice sessions will be the primary focus of team for the next two weeks as they prepare to open Ivy League play against No. 52 University of Pennsylvania on April 5 at home.
“We know we can beat them because we saw them playing Irvine and assessed their weaknesses,” said Kaufman. “It was a great scouting session for us.”