It came down to the final match, but the women’s tennis team (21–4, 6–1 Ivy) eked out a victory against the Brown Bears, 4–3 on Saturday. With the win, the Bulldogs clinched a share of the Ivy League title with Dartmouth and an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. It was Yale’s first Ancient Eight championship since 2008.
“We are all incredibly excited about the Ivy title and the NCAA tournament berth,” Elizabeth Epstein ’13 said.
The Elis struggled to put away the Bears throughout Saturday’s match and were tied 3–3 heading into what would be a marathon four-hour final contest between Stevi Petrelli ’11 and Brown’s Julie Flanzer. Petrelli fell behind after losing the first set in tiebreakers but came back to force the critical third set.
But in the middle of the third set, Petrelli began to suffer from cramps in her legs, arms and fingers and at times had difficulty grasping her racket. The senior captain played through the pain and staved off three match points before pulling away with a 7–5 win in the third set and clinching the match for Yale.
“I just tried to keep moving and stretch between points to give myself a better chance of being able to move well around the court without as much pain,” Petrelli said. “It also forced me to be more aggressive during points so I could end them as quickly as possible.”
The Elis jumped to an early lead after Annie Sullivan ’14 and Lindsay Clark ’11 clinched the doubles point with a close 9–7 victory over Bianca Aboubakare and Jessica Harrow.
But the Bears did not allow the Bulldogs to pull away. Misia Krasowski defeated Vicky Brook 6–4, 6–0 to tie the overall score at 1–1.
Blair Seideman ’14 capped an undefeated Ivy season by beating her opponent in two quick sets, 6–1, 6–2. She has now won nine matches in a row.
“It feels great to go undefeated this season in Ivy play as a freshman,” Seideman said. “Being able to play some of my best tennis of my career and win with so much pressure on the line is very gratifying for me.”
Stephanie Kent ’12 put the Bulldogs ahead 3–2 in a three-set thriller over Harrow 7–5, 1–6, 6–2. However, the Bears tied the match for the third time of the day with a two set victory over Sullivan.
“Brown definitely came to play today,” Silia DeFilippis ’11 said. “They were filled with energy and were prepared for a battle. It was merely a test of pure desire. We wanted it more.”
The three seniors on the team will graduate with a 63–25 record, two Ivy titles and three consecutive ECAC championships.
The Bulldogs will travel to Stanford, Calif. to compete in the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship. The tournament will feature some of the best teams in the country, such as Florida, Duke, UNC as well as defending champion Stanford. But members of the team said they are ready for the higher level of competition.
“The Ivy season has given us tremendous experience, particularly our younger players,” Petrelli said. “We have definitely come out of it as better and stronger players, physically and mentally.”