At the home of the U.S. Open, the women’s tennis team earned grand slam-level success in the United States Tennis Association Invite.
This weekend, in doubles play, Eli teams finished second in both the A and B flights over three days of play. The Bulldogs also put on solid performances in the main and consolation draws of the singles competition.
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Lindsay Clark ’11 and Lauren Ritz ’11 reached the doubles finals in the A draw, and Janet Kim ’09 and Sarah Lederhandler ’10 did the same in the doubles B draw. Kim also won both of her singles matches Saturday but lost in the quarterfinals to the tournament’s top seed. As the second tournament of the fall season, the USTA Invite is preparation for springtime duals and the NCAA tournament.
Head coach Danielle Lund said the team had an extremely consistent performance.
“In every draw we performed very well, in singles and in doubles,” Lund said. “Especially given that all the Ivy League teams are here, and other teams we’ll play in the springtime, the fact that we’re doing well bodes well for next semester.”
Captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 said the players’ performances this weekend reflect long-term improvement for the team as a whole.
“I think that, as a team, we have improved a ton, mentally and physically,” Nguyen said. “We’re hitting better, playing better, playing smarter and beating people we might not have beaten last year. It’s all better as a whole.”
In addition to reaching the doubles A draw finals, Clark emerged as the singles C draw champion with back-to-back wins. Ritz, Clark’s doubles partner, made it to the quarterfinals in singles but tore an abdominal muscle during one of her doubles matches. As a result, Ritz pulled out of the singles draw to focus on her doubles finals match with Clark.
“I think definitely in terms of doubles, Lauren [Ritz] did a great job pulling through it, and we beat the No. 1 seed in doubles,” Clark said.
Lund and Nguyen both said all three freshmen — Clark, Ritz and Stevi Petrelli ’11 — mesh well with the team and are already an integral part of a close group. In 2007, the team graduated two major contributors at No. 3 and No. 5 singles, and at No. 1 doubles.
“Our freshmen are great,” Nguyen said. “They’ve come into the team really well. Everyone is different, experience-wise, and I think the freshmen are a little nervous, but they are doing exceptionally well as a class.”
Lund said the team’s spirit remains just as strong as in past years, and senior players are making an effort to reach out to the freshmen.
“I think our team is one of the tightest-knit group of girls I have ever been a part of,” Lund said. “It’s part of the reason we are doing as well as we are, because everyone is pushing for each other; the freshmen fit in great, and our returning players have done a great job in terms of taking them under their wing.”
Dual matches for the tennis season do not start until January, when the Elis will compete against other schools. In April, the Bulldogs will face off against other Ancient Eight squads, and the overall Ivy League Champion team earns an automatic bid for the NCAA post-season tournament. Clark said the team’s goal is to make the top 10 in the NCAA.
“We treat the fall as preparation for the spring,” Lund said. “The girls take it seriously, and it’s a great time to keep working on your game. We approach the entire college process as a process. For four years, you try to keep getting better and better.”
Yale will play next in the East Regional, a five-day tournament in Norfolk, Va. that starts Oct. 19.