The No. 30 Bulldogs (18–3, 6–0 Ivy) have won the Ivy League title for the second consecutive season with one match to spare thanks to a pair of 6–1 victories this weekend. The two victories pushed the Elis’ winning streak to eight matches.
On Friday, Yale’s defeat of Harvard (10–7, 3–3 Ivy) ensured that the Bulldogs would claim at least a share of the Ivy League title. On Sunday, the Elis traveled to Dartmouth (8–12, 2–4 Ivy) in search of the Ivy League crown, which they placed firmly on their heads via a comprehensive 6–1 win.
“It’s been 31 years since Yale women’s tennis has won two consecutive Ivy titles,” captain Steph Kent ’12 said. “That number has been keeping us motivated and has kept us going.”
Against both the Crimson and the Big Green, the Bulldogs won the first four points of the match, eliminating the opportunity for their opponents to make a comeback. For the 19th and 20th time in their 21 matches, Yale jumped out to a 1–0 lead by winning the doubles point. Against Harvard, the Elis won the doubles point 2–1, with the No. 81 pairing of Amber Li ’15 and Vicky Brook ’12 dropping its match at No. 1. Yale claimed the doubles point against Dartmouth 3–0.
Coach Danielle McNamara attributed the team’s success in doubles this year to many hours of practice.
“We’ve spent an incredible amount of time in practice working on doubles,” McNamara said. “We’ve been working on doubles for years. Now, our players are really starting to understand how to play high-quality doubles.”
Against Harvard, the Bulldogs quickly snatched wins at No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6. At No. 2, Blair Seideman ’14 pushed her winning streak to seven matches by dominating her opponent Camille Jania 6–1, 6–0. Jania had been 10–1 in the spring season prior to playing Seideman. Kent simply overmatched her opponent at No. 5, romping to a 6–2, 6–0 victory. And at No. 6, Annie Sullivan ’14 routed her opponent, cruising to a 6–1, 6–3 straight-set win.
The remaining three singles matches all went to three sets. With the four points necessary for victory secured, each match entered a third-set tiebreaker. At No. 1, Elizabeth Epstein ’13 was just edged out by her opponent after herself holding several match points. Hanna Yu ’15 topped her opponent 10–7 at No. 3 while at No. 4, Vicky Brook ’12 came out on top, 10–8.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs were even more superior in singles. Of the five singles matches that the Elis won, all were in straight sets. The only match that Yale dropped was at No. 5, where Kent came out the wrong side of an extremely close match, 7–6(5), 7–5.
The Ivy League title was clinched at No. 3. Yu had no idea she was the decisive match until the last moment.
“I didn’t really realize that I was the clincher until I won the last point and my teammates who were off the court just came running to hug me,” Yu said. “It was a really good feeling.”
Despite already having secured the Ivy League title, Yale will meet No. 56 Brown (17–7, 3–3 Ivy) in the regular season finale on April 28. It would not be in the character of this team to take the match lightly.
“We’ve never been in this situation where we’ve clinched the title with one match to go,” McNamara said. “We’ll be ready for the next one, though. Brown at home still has NCAA implications.”
Yale will meet Brown at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center on April 28 at 12 p.m.