For women’s tennis, it’s no excuses — just results.
The women (3-3) rallied after back-to-back losses last weekend to win a hot-and-cold match at home against Syracuse University (6-8) Saturday.
Looking ahead to key matches over spring break and the start of the Ivy League season, the victory was especially important for the women’s team, head coach Danielle Lund said.
With two starters still sidelined with injuries and No. 6 Stevi Petrelli ’11 out of Saturday’s lineup because of illness, the team was starting to worry about their season, captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 said.
“Our depth has been undermined,” she said. “I played at No. 4 on Saturday, and I usually play at 6 — if at all.”
But the team is not big on excuses, Lund corrected.
“We have a proverb,” she said. “It’s: ‘Don’t ask for a lighter load — ask for broader shoulders.’ ”
But according to Syracuse head coach Luke Jensen, the Yale women were a far cry from being down and out.
“Their team spirit was fantastic,” he said. “They came out fired up … everyone from top to bottom was tactically very strong. The enthusiasm can really be the difference in critical points.”
Yale won the doubles point with dual 8-5 decisions in favor of both Jessica Rhee ’10 and Lindsay Clark ’11 at No. 1 and Lindsey Dashiell ’08 and Janet Kim ’09 at No. 2. Nguyen said Syracuse is known for its aggressive doubles play.
Setting the tone for the rest of the match, Rhee and Clark fought back from an early 2-5 deficit in their doubles match, handling the points one at a time to capture the next six games straight.
“It signaled that we were going to fight for every point,” Silia DeFilippis ’11 said.
In singles, the team came out with intensity to coast to wins in the top three spots in straight sets, surrendering just nine games between them. Rhee cruised at No. 1, winning 6-2, 6-1. Kim posted a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 2, and Clark cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 decision at No. 3.
Having secured an early 4-0 lead, the team had clinched the match before the final three games had finished.
But the Bulldogs found some turbulence in the remainder of the matches. Nguyen was upset by Syracuse’s Maria Vasilyeva, 6-2, 6-4. The win secured the Syracuse all-conference player her fifth-straight singles win this season.
At Nos. 5 and 6, Dashiell and DeFilippis — who had been asked to join the team as a walk-on two weeks ago — battled in three-set matches. After easily taking the first set, 6-1, Dashiell was edged 7-5 in the second and ultimately lost in a third-set tiebreaker, 10-3.
Despite the match having already been decided in Yale’s favor, DeFilippis’ matchup at No. 6 held both teams’ attention until the last point. In her Yale tennis debut, the freshman traded games with her opponent, losing a closely contested match, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8.
“The Yale player could have just quit at that point — the match had been won — but she never gave up,” Jensen said. “It’s really your effort and your attitude out there that matter. … Those final points really showed the character of both sides.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Colorado and California over spring break, where match play will pit them against five nationally ranked teams.
“They will be tough matches: It will be great preparation for our Ivy season, and we hope to keep the momentum going,” Lund said.