Coming on the heels of an Ivy League title-winning season, the Yale women’s tennis team opens up Ancient Eight play this Friday with the Bulldog Invitational.

The home tournament will feature opponents from across the country, with Dartmouth, Brown, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Purdue and Boston College all traveling to the Elm City. Last year, Yale posted an astonishing 17–4 record, winning the Ivy League title with a near-perfect 6–1 conference record. Furthermore, Yale’s tennis squad demonstrated remarkable consistency on its home court, winning all 11 of its matches at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center.

With two Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Americans on the roster, Annie Sullivan ’14 and Madeleine Hamilton ’16, Yale is poised to repeat last year’s success. Sullivan, who is both team captain and the ITA’s 88th-ranked player, led the team in wins last season with a 19–1 record. Both All-Americans will be seeking to firmly establish themselves among the Ivy League’s elite this season, beginning at the Bulldog Invitational.

“We’re really excited about having our first tournament of the year and hosting it on our home courts,” Hamilton said. “We’re playing three good teams that we didn’t face last year, and we’re really excited to showcase how hard we’ve been working and get some good wins under our belt.”

The Elis will host ranked opponents Purdue and Penn State this weekend. Though Yale trounced Purdue 7–0 when they last met in 2011, the Boilermakers ended last season ranked No. 27, nine places ahead of No. 36 Yale. Purdue may pose the stiffest challenge to the Elis throughout the coming tournament. Yale will also face another top 50 squad: No. 47 Penn State. The Nittany Lions will look to upset the Bulldogs at home and make a jump in the NCAA rankings. Ree Ree Li ’16 said that playing these opponents at home was a great opportunity for the team.

“As a team we’re really excited to start the season with home matches,” Li said. “We’ve been working hard and cannot wait to be back on the court competing together.”

Last season, Yale tennis dominated Ivies Brown and Dartmouth, winning 6–1 and 5–2 respectively, while tearing through most of their seven conference opponents. Yale has also had success in recent years against Boston College. Yale swept the Eagles 7–0 en route to an Eastern College Athletic Conference indoor tennis championship in 2012.

With two freshmen, Caroline Lynch ’17 and Sherri Li ’17, on the roster, Yale should have an infusion of young talent, coupled with six returning players from their Ivy Championship squad. It will be up to four-time Ivy League Championship-winning coach, Danielle McNamara, to find a way to successfully utilize her two newest weapons and carve a path toward a third straight Ivy crown.

“I’m super pumped for my first ever college tournament,” Li said in a message to the News. “I think it’s really nice that my first time competing in the YWT uniform will be right here at home. I know this is going to be an awesome experience, especially for Caroline and me!”

The Bulldog Invitational will be held from Friday, Oct. 4 to Sunday, Oct. 6, as the Bulldogs embark upon their 2013-’14 Ivy League campaign.

I'm a Belgian-American originally hailing from a rural town in Virginia. My first foray into reporting was founding a news paper at my high school called "The Conversation."