As the host of the USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Championships this past weekend, the women’s tennis team proved that it was a force to be reckoned with.
The Bulldogs had impressive victories in both the singles and doubles matches. The Elis had two doubles teams advance to the semifinals as well as a player in the singles final round. Overall, the Bulldogs went 15–6 in singles and 10–3 in doubles, a feat that coach Danielle McNamara said was “probably the best overall team performance in five years.”
In singles, Elizabeth Epstein ’13 won five matches and played in the tournament’s final round, where she lost to the tournament’s third seed, Columbia’s Nicole Bartnik (6–4,6–3). Throughout the weekend, Bartnik lost only one set —the first set in a fourth-round game against Epstein’s teammateBlair Seideman ’14.
Epstein entered the tournament as the sixth overall seed, a spot that earned her a first-round bye. After a win in the second round, Epstein faced Binghamton’s Jillian Santos on Sunday. Although she lost the first set, Epstein was able to regroup and win in three sets (5–7,6–3,6–2) —a strong comeback that she said gave her confidence for the rest of the tournament. She then went on to defeat the tournament’s No. 9 seed in straight sets before advancing to the quarterfinals on Monday night. Two strong victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals (6–4,7–5 and 6–4,6–1, respectively) earned her a spot in the final on Tuesday.
Throughout the tournament, Epstein’s teammates also had very strong performances in the singles games. Four out of Yale’s six singles players made it to the third round, and three —Epstein, Vicky Brook ’12and Hanna Yu ’15 – continued on to the quarterfinals. Overall, the Bulldogs went 6–2 in singles on Saturday, and 7–1 on Sunday. Brook and Yu, who also played a doubles match on Monday evening in the semifinals, were eliminated after tough losses in the quarter and semifinals, respectively. Yu, who was unseeded at the start of the tournament, had a particularly exciting win in the quarterfinals, where she won the match 1–6,7–6 (1),6–1.
Hosting the tournament at Yale’s own Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center was, of course, an added bonus to both the singles and doubles players.
“There’s really nothing like playing at home and representing your university,” said Brook.
In doubles, the Bulldogs started the weekend admirably by going undefeated in the first two rounds of the tournament. The three doubles pairs Brook and Yu, Annie Sullivan ’14 and Amber Li ’15, and Captain Stephanie Kent ’12 and Seideman – made a very strong showing on the first day of competition.
On Saturday, Brook and Yu defeated a pair from Boston College 8–3 and moved on to the quarterfinals. Sullivan and Li, with a 9–7 win over one of Princeton’s pairs, also advanced. In the quarterfinals on Sunday, Yale went 2–0, with both pairs defeating teams from Harvard to move on to the semifinal round. The simultaneous matches against Harvard were some of the most exciting of the weekend, with Brook and Yu winning their match 9–8(4) and Sullivan and Li winning 8–6. Looking back on the match, Brook said, “We did a really great job coming together as a cohesive unit in crucial moments.” McNamara added that the exciting quarterfinal doubles matches really went the distance.
Epstein said the tournament proved the team will be tough compeition come January both within the Ivy League as well as against nonconference teams.
The Bulldogs will next compete in the Dartmouth Invitational during the weekend of Nov.4.