Yale women’s tennis opened its season on a strong note this past weekend at the Cissie Leary Invitational, with especially impressive performances from the newest members of the team.
The Bulldogs traveled to Philadelphia with four new freshmen, a new head coach and a new assistant coach to compete in the first tournament of their fall season. The class of 2018 contributed to many of the team’s victories this weekend, posting wins in both the doubles and singles brackets.
“It was a really great opportunity for players to get matches in, to see where we’re at, to see what we need to work on,” said head coach Taka Bertrand. “It’s only the first week after official practices, so we just want to throw players into match situations and see which doubles teams might work out.”
Bertrand said she was especially pleased with the doubles combination of Carol Finke ’18 and Valerie Shklover ’18, which advanced to the semifinals in what was the first collegiate tournament for either player. In their debut match for the Elis, the team of Finke and Shklover swept over a team from Ivy League rival Princeton, winning 8–3. In the next round, the duo defeated a Harvard pair 8–4.
“It was a thrill to represent Yale on the courts,” Finke said. “In particular, beating the Princeton and Harvard teams was an incredibly exciting start to our doubles career.”
The doubles pairing advanced to the semifinals to face another Harvard duo after a comfortable 8–1 win over a team representing the University of Richmond. Although Finke and Shklover were unable to clinch the win against this pair of Cantabs, Bertrand was happy to see the pair click on the court and was impressed with Finke and Shklover’s overall play in the tournament.
“It just felt good,” said Shklover. “It was a relief that we started off on a good page.”
Besides Finke and Shklover, underclassmen Elizabeth Zordani ’18 and Sherry Li ’17 were productive in the consolation bracket after losing in the first round. They pulled out an 8–3 victory in the consolation semifinal match against a Penn State pair. In the finals, Zordani and Li overcame a pair of Princeton Tigers with an 8–5 win, making them the victors of the consolation draw.
Bertrand said she credits the veteran pair of Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and senior captain Hanna Yu ’15 for setting an example for the younger team members. They started the weekend with an easy 8–0 win over a Penn State duo and continued with an 8–4 victory over two Terrapins from the University of Maryland. The duo later lost its quarterfinal match 5–8 to a Harvard pair.
Yale posted impressive results in the singles bracket as well. According to Bertrand, Caroline Lynch ’17 had a breakthrough weekend. In the Singles B bracket, she had to play an additional match just to secure a spot in the draw. In the first round, Lynch fought hard through three sets to beat Cassandre Thebault of the University of Maryland 7–6, 4–6, 10–8. She had another competitive three-set match in the quarterfinals, but fell to Anais Nussaume of Temple, 6–2, 2–6, 12–14.
“Last year I struggled with confidence, but this weekend was really good for me,” said Lynch. “I felt like I found my game again and found confidence in myself.”
Three Bulldogs — Yu, Hamilton and Ree Ree Li ’16 — will compete at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships in California at the end of this month.