The Ivy League season did not start off as smoothly as the women’s tennis team would have liked.
No. 33 Princeton (15–5, 3–0 Ivy) defeated the No. 40 Bulldogs (12–5, 1–1) by a score of 6–1 at home in Yale’s Ivy League season opener before the Elis crushed Penn (4–10, 0-3) the next day in a 7–0 victory.
“It was just a disappointing loss, I don’t think anyone was satisfied with anything that happened on Friday,” head coach Danielle McNamara said of the loss to Princeton.
The defending Ivy League champion Tigers had lost four straight to the Elis, including their lone loss in 2009.
Doubles competition during the Princeton match set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The No.1 doubles pair Vicky Brook ’12 and Lindsay Clark ’11 fell 8–5 to Princeton’s Taylor Marable and Hilary Bartlett, the No. 19 doubles duo in the nation, despite a strong start.
“We had been up [early], and then the momentum switched on our court,” Brook said. “We just got a bit too nervous and lost sight of the big goals.”
Despite captain Sarah Lederhandler ’10 and Stevi Petrelli’s ’11 come-from-behind victory at No. 3 doubles, Princeton won the third doubles match to win the best-of-three and nab the doubles point, giving the Tigers an edge going into singles play.
“I don’t know whether winning doubles would have changed the outcome, but it definitely would have given us more confidence going into singles,” Lederhandler said.
Yale’s only point in the match came from Petrelli’s hard-fought victory at No. 4 singles.
Elizabeth Epstein ’13, who has played No. 5 singles for most of the season, was recovering from stomach flu and did not play in the match.
But Epstein and the rest of her team were back and ready to fight Saturday against Penn. Yale won all three doubles matches, as well as six singles matches in straight sets to beat the Quakers on Saturday afternoon.
According to the team, it was a change in mentality that made the difference between the matches.
“On Friday our players … just underperformed because they put way too much pressure on themselves,” McNamara said. “They wanted to win almost too badly.”
McNamara explained that her players concentrated on specific individual goals and skills on Saturday, instead of focusing on the match as a whole. Team members said this took some of the pressure off and allowed them to play more freely.
Looking ahead to the rest of the Ivy Season, players said the weekend’s outcomes will have little effect on how they approach future matches.
“To be honest, if you look at the results from the Ivy League last season, you just have to play every match as it comes,” Brook said. “You’ve just got to control what you can control — your performance in every match.”
The Bulldogs will hit the road next weekend to take on Columbia and Cornell. The following weekend, Yale will play No. 47 Dartmouth and No. 52 Harvard.
Though the team admitted the match against Princeton was one of the most important in the Ivy season, coach McNamara is still optimistic about her team’s chances for the title.
“The Ivy League season is still in its very early stages, and there’s a lot of tennis left to be played,” McNamara said.