After winning six of seven matches this season, the women’s tennis team cashed in this weekend when it won the ECAC Championships in Hanover, N.H.
Then-No. 63 Yale topped the Big Green 5-2 before defeating Princeton 4-3 to take first place.
The Bulldogs started out the day with the loss of the doubles point, but the women bounced back fiercely to win the overall match. Five of six singles matches belonged to Yale with Janet Kim ’09, Vicki Brook ’12, Jessica Rhee ’10, Stevi Petrelli ’11 and Sarah Lederhandler ’10 dominating their courts. Of 10 sets not a single one was dropped, and no winning match went to more than two sets.
“Our performance against Dartmouth was split between doubles and singles,” Kim said. “In doubles, nerves crept in on all three courts, and we narrowly lost the doubles point because we were playing not-to-lose as opposed to playing-to-win.”
But Yale’s marginal win was enough to carry it to the ECAC Finals on Saturday against No. 52 Princeton, which has the No. 1 freshman class nationwide.
The Bulldogs were able to shift from defensive play to the offensive in order to give the Tigers a run for their money.
“We just trusted in our preparation, played the way we’d practiced, played smart, and out-competed our opponents,” captain Lilian Nguyen ’09 said.
Princeton was only able to hold onto three singles matches Saturday. Yale secured their first and third doubles matches and Brook and Lindsay Clark ’11 won their singles matches. The results of the Championship then hinged on Rhee’s second singles match.
“The biggest highlight of the weekend was Jessie Rhee clinching the Princeton match 7-6 in the third set at #2 singles to win the ECAC Championship,” coach Danielle Lund McNamara said.
The women agreed that their results reflected their preparation. Kim said that the players’ confidence and focus really came through Saturday allowing them to bring home another “W” for their record.
Yale now leads an undefeated streak of four years against Princeton. McNamara said she hopes to continue the women’s Ivy luck on the road to obtain another victory against Princeton when the official Ivy League season begins in April.
“With the exception of our doubles play Saturday vs. Dartmouth, I think we played some of our best tennis of the season so far, especially in singles,” McNamara said. “We competed extremely well and fought so hard to win the Princeton match.”
The women will put in another week of hard work in preparation for the upcoming matches against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., and University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. The two teams will be tough matches, the Bulldogs say. But, as always, the women are remaining positive knowing that their preparation will continue to pay off.
“I’m extremely excited about this upcoming weekend,” McNamara said. “We’re feeling very confident coming off of the last two weekends of competition and we have absolutely nothing to lose against these two top 25 teams.”