No. 27 Yale (14–3, 2–0 Ivy) kicked off its Ivy season with victories over Penn (5–9, 0–3 Ivy) and No. 69 Princeton (8–10, 1–2 Ivy). The twin triumphs stretched the team’s winning streak to four matches.
The Tigers proved considerably tougher competition than the Quakers. Before downing Princeton 4-3 on Saturday, the Bulldogs bageled Penn 7-0 on Friday. The Elis took their customary 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point 2-1. This was the 15th time in 16 matches that the Elis grabbed the doubles point to jump out to a 1-0 lead. And the doubles victory was a sign of things to come, as Yale won all six singles matches.
No. 1 Elizabeth Epstein played the only three-set match against both Penn and Princeton. In both, she lost the first set 6-1 and went on to win the match.
“In both matches my opponent played well in the first set,” Epstein said. “I made a few adjustments going into the second set that helped me and made the difference.”
Penn’s No. 1, Sol Eskenazi, had lost just once this spring prior to facing Epstein. Epstein said that Eskenazi’s game was difficult because of the spin she put on her shots. Combined with the gusting winds, Eskenazi’s high, bouncing balls caused Epstein problems.
No. 5 Vicky Brook ’12 enjoyed the most dominant weekend of any Yale player, losing a total of just three games in the four sets she played.
“Playing at home and getting used to the windier conditions here helps me focus in and make smart decisions about shot selection,” Brook said. “That helps me to construct the points effectively and to finish at the net.”
The other player to emerge from the weekend 2-0 was No. 3 Blair Seideman ’14, who won three of her four sets 6-1. Seideman explained that the beginning of Ivy League play prompted her to raise her game.
“When I go into Ivy season it feels like a totally different part of the season, like the most important part,” Seideman said.
On Saturday, Princeton provided fierce opposition before falling to the Elis 4-3. For the 16th time in 17 matches Yale clinched the doubles point, 3-0. That point proved crucial, as Princeton mounted a furious comeback in the singles matches to complicate matters.
After No. 2 Hanna Yu ’15 lost 6-0, 6-1, Seideman and Brook both won 6-1, 6-1 to put the Bulldogs in a commanding 3-1 lead. However, No. 4 captain Steph Kent ’12 fell to Princeton’s Katherine Flanigan 6-3, 6-3 while at No. 6 Annie Sullivan ’14 came up just short in a 7-6(5), 7-5 defeat. The two points for Princeton tied the match at three. The last match to finish was Epstein’s.
At five-all in the decisive third set, Epstein broke her opponent, Hilary Bartlett, to serve for the match at 6-5. After going up 40-0 in that game, Bartlett fought back to knot the game at deuce.
“I wasn’t nervous, per se,” Epstein said. “I think she played a couple good points in there. It was a pretty high quality game. Once it got back to 40-all, I just tried to focus on how I got up in the first place.”
And she did just that, pulling out the game to secure the match for the Bulldogs. Epstein said she would not soon forget clinching the match in front of all her teammates and fans.
Next week, the Bulldogs will travel to New York to take on Columbia and Cornell. Coach Danielle McNamara is particularly wary of the threat Columbia poses.
“Columbia is a much-improved team from last year,” McNamara said. “They have had very solid results this year. From what I’ve seen, they’re the strongest they’ve been since I’ve been at Yale.”
Columbia beat Dartmouth on Friday 4-3 but fell to Harvard 4-3 on Saturday.