An 8–3 victory over a women’s doubles team from Princeton not only gave Lindsay Clark ’11 and Vicky Brook ’12 a tournament victory, but it also made them the first women’s tennis doubles team from Yale to ever qualify for the ITA National Indoor Championships.
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After breezing to win six matches this past weekend, Brook and Clark faced their toughest challenge in the final match when they faced the top-seeded team of Princeton’s Hilary Bartlett and Taylor Marable, who are ranked No. 8 in the nation. Despite their underdog status, the Bulldogs won 8–3 and carried off the 2010 USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Championship trophy at Dartmouth’s Boss Tennis Center on Tuesday.
“It was a really great achievement for us,” Brook said. “We were so excited to win it! And it really helps our program because we’ve been trying to get a higher national ranking.”
Clark and Brook have been playing competitively together for three years.
“I was really excited for them,” head coach Danielle McNamara said. “I know how hard they’ve been working for this and how badly they wanted it. Every time you see your players really setting their minds to something and accomplishing it, it’s such a great feeling to help them get there in any way you can.”
Brook and Clark will now be competing in the crème-de-la-crème of women’s varsity tennis. Sixteen teams compete in the championship. Twelve teams qualify for the ITA Championship from different regions all over the country by winning conferences such as the USTA/ITA and Pac-10 .The four remaining slots are filled by a random selection amongst the top five teams in the country, who have not necessarily won regional conferences.
Clark and Brook will be facing their first opponents next Thursday morning on Nov. 4 in the first knockout round. The tournament is being held at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., on the same courts where the U.S. Open is held every year. The eight winning teams will go on to play the next round, while the losers play consolation matches. The list of teams that qualified for the championship will be officially released next week, but teams from UCLA, Stanford, Duke, Florida, Georgia have all qualified, Clark said.
The team said it is working hard to prepare themselves, with daily practice sessions carefully supervised by McNamara.
“Doubles is something we work on pretty much everyday, it’s an ongoing process over the course of the year,” McNamara said. “It’s just a matter of putting in the time on the court and watching videos of our matches. [Preparing for the nationals] is pretty much going to be more of the same.”
Last year, the tournament was held at Yale, which automatically guaranteed two singles player and a doubles team a spot. This year, however, is the first time Yale has qualified through the regional tournament to compete in the nationals.
Brook and Clark said they are confident about their chances, noting that two weeks ago they set new records when they beat Ohio State and Stanford to become the first Yale team to qualify for the draw at the All-American Championship in California.
“We have a really good relationship, we have a ton of chemistry and work really well together,” Clark said. “Especially with doubles, when you know the person you’re playing with really well and know what kind of shots they’re going to hit, that definitely helps.”
Brook and Clark however have a bigger end goal in mind than winning the ITA National Indoor Championships. They said they also hope to get an All-American ranking and a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament as a doubles team.
A win at the ITA National Championship will give them a ranking in the top 15 teams in the country, Clark said. The team’s national ranking before Tuesday’s win was 37th.