The women’s tennis team stormed through its spring home opener before sweeping its southern swing through North Carolina.
Yale (3-0) used a blowout against Seton Hall University (0-2) Jan. 25 to tune up for a tight victory over nationally-ranked No. 13 Wake Forest University (1-1) Feb. 1. Then on Feb. 2, the Bulldogs routed the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (0-3) 7-0 on the momentum of their win over the Demon Deacons.
Yale did not drop a single set in the 7-0 embarrassment of Seton Hall. The Bulldogs won 96 games and dropped only 14 to the Pirates.
Perhaps that is the kind of match that powerhouse Wake Forest expected to have when hosting the Elis.
“Yale had nothing to lose — and we underestimated them,” Wake Forest head coach Brian Fleishman was quoted as saying on the Wake Forest Athletics Web site.
But the Bulldogs had an extra incentive to win. Head coach Chad Skorupka left Wake Forest for Yale in August 2001. And Yale’s assistant coach Maren Haus graduated from Wake Forest last May after her 4-year collegiate tennis career.
“I knew two of the players pretty well as far as their strengths and weaknesses,” Skorupka said. “But Maren [Haus] knew everyone else. I think our knowledge of the team helped a little.”
Haus’ first return to Wake Forest certainly did not help the Bulldogs’ reception in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“Janet [Bergman, Haus’ former teammate and current Wake Forest assistant coach] greeted me as the enemy,” Haus said. “The head coach referred to me as the traitor, and they replaced my pictures and the code on the team locker room just before I arrived. All in good fun!”
Haus and Yale had the last laugh with a 4-3 victory secured by the do-or-die singles wins of twins Ashley Martin ’04 and Karlyn Martin ’04. Karlyn Martin defeated Aimee Smith 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4 singles and Ashley Martin handled Sandie Knight 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 at No. 6.
“Karlyn [Martin] played aggressively,” captain Biffy Kaufman ’03 said. “Then Ashley [Martin] dominated to close out the match for us by winning 6-0 in the 3rd set. Both of them have really improved this year, and it was great to watch them both playing so well when the match depended on them.”
Kaufman certainly did her part, beating nationally ranked No. 70 Katie Martzolf 6-1, 6-4, after trailing 4-1 in the second set.
Kaufman said her serve felt particularly strong — something that helped her approach net and avoid giving Martzolf too many short balls. But Kaufman said Martzolf’s serve was not as good as usual.
“I was able to take advantage of her second serves,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman credited Coach Haus’ early-morning conditioning workouts for making a noticeable difference in the match.
Steph White ’05 destroyed her opponent Elizabeth Proctor at No. 5 singles: 6-1, 6-1.
Yale followed its thriller win over the Demon Deacons with a laugher at UNC-Greensboro. The Bulldogs posted another 7-0 victory and completed the match without dropping a set.
Skorupka hesitated to extrapolate the team’s play into the Ivy League season; on paper, Harvard and Penn are still the favorites. But Haus saw significance in the team’s quick start.
“We went [to Wake Forest] hoping to prove that Yale can compete with a nationally ranked team,” Haus said. “I think we proved our point.”