Despite a disappointing turn in Boston two weeks ago, two weeks off and home turf appeared to be just what the Yale women’s tennis team needed to return to top form.
The Elis (7-8, 2-0 Ivy) opened their Ivy League season this weekend with a pair of resounding victories — a 6-1 victory over Princeton (5-10, 1-2) on Friday and a 5-2 upset of No. 49 Penn (13-4, 3-1) on Saturday.
“We were very happy with the victories this weekend,” Aimee Kim ’07 said. “They were definitely especially nice after our Boston trip, as well as being a great start to our Ivy season.”
Yale put up a dominant performance against Princeton Friday, as all six Bulldog singles players won their matches in straight sets. Christine Alford ’07 won 6-4, 6-2 at the top spot; Karlyn Martin ’04 won 6-2, 6-4 at number two; Reshmi Srinath ’05 took the number three match 6-0, 6-2; Ashley Martin ’04 won 6-2, 6-2 at number four; Rashmee Patil ’07 took a close number five match 7-5, 6-4; and Stephanie White ’05 won the number six match 6-1, 6-3.
In doubles, the combination of sisters Karlyn and Ashley Martin won their match at the top spot 8-5. Unfortunately, it was the only doubles victory of the contest. Princeton won the number two and three doubles matches, taking the doubles point — its only point. A team must win two of the three doubles matches to take the doubles point.
Penn appeared to be the more formidable opponent of the weekend — the Quakers came into Saturday’s contest undefeated in the Ivy League and having one of their best seasons in recent history, achieving national ranking as high as No. 28 earlier this season.
But the competition was surprisingly one-sided. Four Bulldogs won their matches in straight sets, including Alford pulling out a 6-4, 6-4 upset of Nicole Ptak, the nation’s 77th ranked singles player, at the number one singles spot.
“Christine came up big beating the No. 1 player from Penn, who is ranked No. 77 in singles,” Yale head coach Chad Skorupka said. “That should give her a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”
The other straight-set wins came from Karlyn Martin 7-6, 6-2 at the second spot, Patil 6-3, 6-4 at number five and, at number six, White won 6-3, 6-2. Ashley Martin added her fifth singles victory at the fourth spot, recovering after dropping the second set to win 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
While the Bulldogs’ two victories this weekend were impressive, there was a notable problem. When asked about things that the team still needs to work on, Skorupka responded decisively.
“Doubles, doubles and more doubles,” Skorupka said. “We need to get off to a better start and play a little more consistently.”
Skorupka has reason to worry. While the Bulldogs went 11 for 12 in singles matches this weekend, they only went one for six in doubles — the only Eli doubles victory this weekend was the Martin sisters’ victory against Princeton Friday. But several matches were close — both Kim and Patil on Friday and the Martin twins on Saturday lost 9-7 — and many players said that the doubles issues are easily fixable.
“Both of the doubles points were close,” Patil said. “I feel like if we are more decisive and aggressive in our play, we will turn our losses to wins.”
Yale heads to the road again for its next two contests, against Cornell on Friday and Columbia Saturday.
Neither team has fared very well this season — the Big Red are 5-7 and have yet to claim an Ivy League victory, and while Columbia, at 9-6, has a better record than Yale, the Lions are 1-3 in Ivy play, with their sole win coming against Cornell. Despite this, Eli players know that they must remain focused in order to win.
“With two wins we’re very confident that we can do well next weekend,” Srinath said. “Both matches are away, so it will be tough, but we learned this weekend that if we all focus, we can do really well.”
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