With an unbeaten Ivy record and the league championship still up for grabs, the women’s tennis team was feeling the pressure against Brown yesterday. But in the end, the Elis were able to grin and bear the heat.
The Bulldogs (10-8, 5-0 Ivy) triumphed over the Bears (9-10, 1-4) at home by the final score of 5-2. With the victory, Yale remains perfect against Ivy opponents this spring, with only Dartmouth (14-5, 2-2) and Harvard (11-9, 4-0) left on the Elis’ slate.
Yesterday’s contest did not begin well for the Elis. The second doubles team of Rashmee Patil ’07 and Aimee Kim ’07 fell 3-8 and the combination of Christine Alford ’07 and Olivia Nix ’07 lost 4-8 in the third spot. Although the team of captain Karlyn Martin ’04 and Ashley Martin ’04 was able to win its number one doubles match 8-3, Brown took the doubles point, putting pressure on the Bulldogs to take four singles matches in order to win the competition.
Down but not out, the Elis took to the singles in solid form. Three Bulldogs dispatched their Brown opponents in fast straight-set matches to put Yale back in the contest. First off the court was Reshmi Srinath ’05, who surrendered only three games in her 6-2, 6-1 victory at the third spot. In the fourth slot, Ashley Martin similarly controlled her match, winning 6-3, 6-2.
Last fall, it took Patil a third set tiebreak to defeat Brown’s Amanda Saiontz. Today, in her number five singles match, Patil took control, winning in nearly flawless 6-2, 6-0 fashion.
“It was much closer in the fall,” Patil said. “This time I closed it out by putting pressure on her early.”
With three matches left on the courts, Yale led Brown 3-1, needing one more win to seal the victory. But the final point would not be an easy one.
Alford and Karlyn Martin went down a set and a break each at the first and second singles spots, respectively. Stephanie White ’05, who missed this weekend’s action due to an aggravated shoulder injury, was down a break 5-6 to Brown’s Daisy Ames in the first set of the number six match.
But then Yale turned it around. Both Alford and Martin broke back to get back on serve, then broke again en route to winning their second sets 6-4.
Meanwhile, White’s match provided the greatest drama of the day. She broke back to force a tiebreak, then promptly double-faulted to go down a quick 0-1. The two players traded points all the way to 4-5. Ames followed up a strong serve to win the next point, and White faced double set point.
But White stayed aggressive, despite being down. She took the next rally and then the first point on her serve to bring the tiebreak to a 6-6 tie. Now controlling the momentum, White took the next two points, winning the first set 7-6 (6).
Although she knew her tiebreak was crucial, White said that she was able to keep that out of her mind.
“I try not to think about [what’s going on around me],” she said. “I just think about the next point.”
The second set was only slightly less dramatic. White broke Ames to start the set and Ames broke back to get to 2-1. White then broke Ames two more times, putting her in position to serve for the match at 5-2. But Ames broke White again to narrow the gap to 5-3.
In the next game, White won several long rallies to go up 30-40, earning a match point. But Ames was able to take a long rally to go to deuce — the first of four that would come that game. Although White won all but the first deuce point, it took four deuces and four total match points for her to close out the victory.
With White’s win, the Bulldogs took the deciding fourth point to claim victory.
“I felt mostly relief,” White said. “I had four match points and I kept saying, ‘Why can’t I win one?'”
Brown players seemed resigned at the close contest going to the Bulldogs.
“There were a lot of close matches,” Michelle Pautler said. “Both teams had their chances and it just didn’t go our way.”
With yesterday’s victory, Yale maintains its unbeaten streak within the Ancient Eight. But the toughest contests are yet to come. Friday, the Elis face Dartmouth, winners of four of their last six. Sunday, the Bulldogs face their ultimate contest of the season against Harvard, which has been ranked in the top 20 at various points this season and is currently riding a four-contest win streak.
As always, the Elis are ready for the challenge.
“We’re really pumped for this weekend,” Nix said. “We’ve just got to come out strong.”