The Yale women’s tennis team may have lost its old head coach and No. 1 singles player last spring, but the team is stronger than ever this season with the addition of five talented freshmen to the roster.
The Bulldogs warmed up against Quinnipiac on Wednesday in their first match of the season, crushing the Bobcats in a 7-0 victory. The Elis showed strong performances in their singles and doubles matches, and the three freshmen who competed proved that they will be a major asset to the team as the Ivy League season advances.
Yale started out strong, winning all three of its doubles matches. Christine Alford ’07 and Aimee Kim ’07 played first seed and shut out Quinnipiac, 8-0, with seamless teamwork and a barrage of quick backhands. The duo showed no sign of fatigue after testing the endurance of Quinnipiac’s Tina Hoang and Gabby Pasternak. Team captain Olivia Nix ’07 and Rashmee Patil ’07 also surpassed their opponents, 8-2, with some outstanding returns.
The Elis also dominated in singles. Patil won the first seed game, 6-3, 6-0, in an impressive show of agility and endurance. Patil consistently beguiled Quinnipiac’s Pasternak by hitting the ball to the other side of the court and as close to the line as possible.
One of the biggest stories of the day’s performance was the success of the freshmen, all of whom won their matches. Janet Kim ’09 showed her mental strength by keeping her equanimity in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Hoang. Ashley Miles ’09 won her match, 6-1, 6-2, over Jacquelyn Visinski with a ripping two-handed forehand and long volleys. Lilia Nguyen ’09 tested Danielle Rodriguez’s range with quick returns and hard volleys, securing a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
Rather than cautioning her players before the game or giving technical tips, Yale head coach Katie Granson said she encouraged players to have fun on the courts.
“We talked a lot about how hard they’ve been working,” Granson said. “This is the fun part.”
Still, Yale players said getting in shape for the season was hard work. The team has been playing in individual matches since the fall, and has lately been practicing six days a week.
Although Granson said she is excited about her young players and has no doubts that they will contribute to a strong team, she said they still need playing time to improve their form.
“The freshmen are still learning things,” Granson said.
Nix said she is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the season.
“I think this is the strongest team I’ve had,” Nix said. “We’ve been training a lot harder.”
On the whole, the Bulldogs share Nix’s sentiment. Although the Elis were almost certain of victory over the Bobcats, the results of the matches were still encouraging. The players know that if they work hard enough, they will continue to win. The team will take on Seton Hall this Sunday at Cullman Courts.
“I think we’ll do really well,” Patil said. “We have a very tough schedule, though.”
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