Even without their sharpest game, the women’s tennis team aced their New York road trip, returning to campus after sweeping Columbia, 7-0, and winning a 4-3 nail-biter against Cornell.
Though Columbia (9-8, 1-4 Ivy) and Cornell (11-7, 1-4) were relative lightweights in Yale’s (11-4, 3-2) Ivy schedule, the Bulldogs knew they would have to muscle up and stay focused to remain afloat in the league standings.
With morale running high following the sweep of Columbia, Yale traveled to the Reis Tennis Center in Ithaca Saturday to play a gripping afternoon match versus Cornell. Coming off a 4-3 loss to Brown, the Big Red were thirsty for a win and gave the Eli women a struggle.
In the doubles round, the first point of the day was awarded to the Bulldogs who won two of the three matches. The tandem of Susie Hiniker ’02 and Liz Oosterhuis ’02, unbeaten in their last eight matches, clinched the momentous point with an 8-3 win over Nicole Chui and Erika Takeuchi.
In singles competition, Margaret Purcell ’04 lost 6-3, 6-1 to Wright at the No. 1 spot.
“I didn’t feel in control at any part of the match,” Purcell said. “I should have done a better job trying to exploit her weaknesses.”
Riding a season-long winning streak, Biffy Kaufman ’03 breezed past Laura Leigh Tallent, 6-0, 6-2 to stay perfect. Patience and placement, the key elements in the Yale junior’s game, have been executed brilliantly this spring. Kaufman, who has played every game on the schedule, is undefeated in 15 games.
“Personal laurels are motivating,” said Kaufman. “The streak is unbelievably great, but a team victory is even more satisfying.”
Cornell’s own streaker, Akane Kokubo, who is 5-0 in league play, defeated Andrea Goldberg ’02, 6-2, 6-0. In the No. 4 spot, Hiniker and Takeuchi engaged in a three-set affair. The Yalie jumped ahead, taking the first set, but Takeuchi remained persistent and pulled out the victory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Karlyn Martin ’04, slated at No. 6, upended Sternberg, 6-4, 6-3.
“I didn’t play my sharpest tennis, but I adjusted my game and came away with the win against an opponent whom I’ve always had close matches with in the past,” the Bulldog said of her performance.
Martin’s victory made the score 3-all and the outcome rested on the Oosterhuis-Piper Lucus match at the No. 5 spot, a backbreaking two and a half hour bout. Oosterhuis was leading by a set when she learned that Yale’s victory was contingent on her performance.
“I wasn’t going to walk off the court until I won the match, and that determination really helped me,” she said.
By breaking Lucus’ serve late in the second set, Oosterhuis handed Yale the win and capped the successful weekend with flair. For the second time this season, Oosterhuis delivered under pressure, with victory on the line, but she maintains that it was a codependent relationship.
“The cheering from my teammates helped me along,” Oosterhuis said. “The match was a great team effort.”
Yale opened its roadtrip against Columbia on Friday. The homecourt advantage was evident, as it took the Bulldogs time to acclimate to the court surface at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center in New York.
However, with strong mechanics and a positive mentality, the Eli women overwhelmed the Light Blue in the doubles matches to take the lead 1-0 and set the pace for the rest of the day.
In singles play, No. 1 Margaret Purcell ’04, playing without her best stuff, defeated Mittal 6-3, 6-2.
“I felt a little tentative on my shots and wasn’t going for the right shots at the right times,” Purcell said.
A self-motivator on the court who gains strength deeper into rallies, Purcell took a veteran’s approach. She stayed patient, covered good ground, and kept the ball in play to let Mittal pile up on mistakes.
Yale had three other straight set victories on the day. Kaufman, who has played most of the season at No. 2, thrived at the spot once more as she came away with a resounding 6-3, 6-0 victory over Rahali.
Goldberg nipped Melissa Nguyen 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 3 hole for her first win of the season.
Oosterhuis, who had a five game winning streak snapped on Tuesday, regained her winning ways with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
“All of the matches were closer than the scores reflected,” Oosterhuis said, “but we wanted to win more, and so we focused better.”
This was most apparent in Hinker and Karlyn Martin’s tight matches. In both, Columbia took the first set, but the Bulldogs clawed back to take the next two. Hiniker prevailed in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 contest over Kristen Martinez while Martin slipped by Weintraub in a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 duel.
With this road-trip, the Bulldogs have proven their mettle against their league opponents. They know that they have the ability to trounce their competition and close out matches in tougher situations.
The confidence they have gained arrives at a crucial time — Yale will host rival Harvard University this Friday at 2:30.
“This is the match we have been anticipating all year,” Purcell said.