Everything in the fall season, according to women’s tennis head coach Chad Skorupka, builds toward the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships.
So when the Bulldogs take the court at the Regional Championships in Cambridge Friday, the Elis will face their final and most important test of the fall season. Margaret Purcell ’04 and captain Biffy Kaufman ’03 will be seeded in the singles main draw, where unseeded Susie Hiniker ’03 will join them. Kaufman and Stephanie White ’05 will represent Yale in the main draw of the doubles competition.
Although Kaufman and Purcell will be seeded in the tournament, their exact ranking is uncertain at this time because the draw has not yet been finalized, Skorupka said.
White, Karlyn Martin ’04 and Ashley Martin ’04 earned selections to the qualifying singles tournament. The Martin sisters will also compete in the doubles qualifier, along with the Purcell and Hiniker duo. Participants in either qualifier must win two rounds to make the main draw.
Since the ITA Regional Championships is a selective tournament, Skorupka was pleased that six of his players were able to participate and that Purcell and Kaufman earned seeds.
“This tournament has the best players from every school,” Skorupka said. “So everyone needs to prepare to play very focused tennis because there will be no free and easy points and matches.”
Kaufman does not seem intimidated by the level of the competition.
“I think that it will be a great opportunity for me and the rest of the team to get some good wins over some of the top players in the section and the country,” Kaufman said. “It is always a fun tournament because there are only the top players from each school there so you know there are going to be good matches.”
Penn’s Alice Pirsu, who is the No. 1 seed, is the best of those top players.
“Pirsu is the person to beat,” Skorupka said. “All of the doubles teams from Harvard will be the best.”
The Bulldogs are hoping that they can pick up where they left off two weekends ago, when they won the ECAC Team Championship. Skorupka says that if his team can play with that intensity again, they can expect some good results.
Individual competitions, however, are different from team events like the ECAC.
“The whole team is not there and we’re not all playing at the same time,” said Ashley Martin. “But every time we step on the court, even in team competition, every player has to focus only on her court to try to get the win.”
Kaufman said that she will not be treating this tournament any different from the others that Yale has competed in this fall. She has, however, set a definitive goal for herself this weekend.
“I have had some good results in doubles in the past,” Kaufman said. “Hopefully I will be able to match those this year in singles as well.”
Skorupka said the ITA Regional Tournament is more than a chance for the individual Elis to advance to the national tournament. This weekend represents the Bulldogs’ last chance to build on their momentum for the spring season.
“Everyone seems excited for the weekend,” Kaufman said. “After a bit of a rest, having last weekend off, we are all ready to go out and compete.”
Players at the ITA Regional Championships are competing to qualify for the National Championships, hosted by Southern Methodist University at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 7-10.