After winning its first match of the season, the women’s tennis team split this weekend’s matches at Cullman Courts in New Haven. Following a 6-1 victory over Penn State Friday, the Elis fell to Wake Forest Sunday by a score of 4-3. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs are 2-1 overall and remain enthusiastic about their prospects for the rest of the year.

Sunday’s match proved to be the most difficult of the young season. The Bulldogs were up to the challenge, as evidenced by the 4-3 final score, but fell just short of a win. They matched Wake Forest stroke-for-stroke in singles, winning three of the six individual matches, including a straight-set victory for Reshmi Srinath ’05 at No. 3. But a sweep in doubles led to the Elis’ first defeat of the season.

“Out of our first three matches, Wake Forest was the hardest,” head coach Chad Skorupka said. “They play good doubles and got off to a 1-0 start, taking the doubles point.”

The Bulldogs are not disheartened by Sunday’s defeat.

“The first loss of the year is always tough to deal with,” Aimee Kim ’07 said. “But we have a really deep team this year, and that’ll be our main strength. Because of our depth, we have the ability to beat any team out there. We really want an NCAA bid this year — we missed it by one school last year.”

Friday’s win over Penn State gave the Elis another reason to be optimistic. The Bulldogs won two of three doubles matches and five of six singles matches, highlighted by a comeback win by Christine Alford ’07 at No. 1. After losing the first set 6-2, Alford won the next two, 6-1, 6-2.

Juliette Vartikar ’06 saw the match as a valuable learning experience for the freshmen.

“We have a really young team,” Vartikar said. “Half the members of our team are freshmen, and it was great for them to gain some confidence by winning against such a tough opponent.”

The Elis will face an even greater challenge on their next road trip when they face both Nebraska and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

“We have two weeks to prepare for a tough road trip,” Skorupka said. “Both teams we play are nationally ranked with us and I’m sure they will be great match-ups.”

This weekend’s matches served as a reunion of sorts for both Skorupka and assistant coach Maren Haus. Skorupka received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Penn State, and served as an assistant coach there for three years. He then went to Winston-Salem, N.C., to work as an assistant coach for the Demon Deacons. He coached Haus, who graduated from Wake Forest in 2002, for two years.

“There [are] two players still on the [Wake Forest] team whom I coached — we still keep in touch,” Skorupka said. “I know Maren still has many friendships on the current team, and yes, I am sure she wanted to beat them.”