After a surprising run last spring that barely missed the Ivy crown, the women’s tennis team is back on the hardcourts and ready to take another stab at the league title.

The Elis begin their 2004-2005 campaign this weekend at the Yale Invitational. Last season, the Bulldogs played their most successful season in recent years, finishing second in the Ivy League (6-1).

“We have a strong core of players returning this year,” head coach Chad Skorupka said. “If the team works hard at practice and stays focused as a team, they will have another successful season in the spring.”

Last season, Skorupka was named the Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year for the East Region for his leadership.

“That was a tremendous honor that our coach received and our whole team was really proud of him,” Christine Alford ’07 said. “We’re lucky to have such a great coach, and such a great guy as a coach.”

Alford was Yale’s No. 1 singles player last year.

Despite the graduation of the twins Ashley and Karlyn Martin ’04 who played together at the No. 1 doubles spot, team captain Stephanie White ’05 said she is confident that the squad will continue to impress the way they did last spring.

“The team is looking pretty good,” White said. “If the team stays healthy and works hard, we will have a good shot at the Ivy title again this year.”

It is still early to assess the Bulldogs’ chances at winning the league title, but White and her team will need to work very hard this semester to do better than last season.

Apart from White, key returnees also include two players who were selected to last year’s All-Ivy second team in singles competition — Alford and Reshmi Srinath ’05. Both will likely play key roles again for the Elis this season.

“This weekend is our first tournament and we’ve only been back at official practice for one week,” Alford said. “We do, however, expect to show some good skills and get a feel through match play of what we can be working on for the rest of the semester.”

Although the Bulldogs will be playing at four tournaments this fall, their main season is still in the spring, when they will be competing as a team in the Ivy League and working on their national ranking.

Since the fall season is not as intense, it also gives the rookies on the team plenty of time to get used to the style of collegiate tennis. This year, two new players have joined the squad — Lindsey Dashiell ’08 and Catherine Starr ’08.

“[Dashiell and Starr] will both be transitioning this fall from junior tennis to college tennis,” Skorupka said. “We have only had one full week of practice and they are doing well.”

Dashiell graduated from Milton Academy, the same school for which her captain White used to play.

“Lindsey [Dashiell] is extremely talented and athletic, and I think she will do well this year,” White said. “And Catherine [Starr] will also definitely add to our team.”

This weekend’s games will be played at the Cullman Courts on both Saturday and Sunday.

When asked who will be the players to watch, Skorupka replied, “the whole team.”