The Yale women’s tennis team made the most of its home court advantage at the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Tournament, advancing to the finals in both the singles and doubles draw.
The Elis were represented in both championship matches — captain Hanna Yu ’15 advanced to the singles final and the tandem of Yu and Ree Ree Li ’16 advanced to the doubles final. While the Bulldogs were unable to secure a win in either match, according to players interviewed, the tournament was a large success for the team.
“Overall, our team did really well,” Yu said. “It was great to be at home and dominate.”
The tournament, which Yu referred to as the most important event of the fall season, took place at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center from Oct. 16 to 21. Numerous schools from across the northeast, including some of the Ivies, traveled to the Elm City for the competition. The Elis had the opportunity to play against rivals they will face again in the spring season, including Harvard, Dartmouth and Boston University.
“It was incredibly fun to host such a huge event and have the whole region see what Yale women’s tennis is all about,” Sherry Li ’17 said.
Five Yale players were featured in the singles draw: Yu, Ree Ree Li, Madeleine Hamilton ’16, Courtney Amos ’16 and Sherry Li. Amos and Caroline Lynch ’17 began the tournament playing in the qualifying singles draw.
Both players recorded straight set victories in the first round, advancing to the second and final round of the qualifying draw. Lynch played a tough three-set match against Shreya Pasricha of Farleigh Dickinson but was unable to secure the win. Amos earned a spot in the main singles draw after overcoming Drexel’s Ryshena Providence, 6–2, 6–1.
In the first round of the main draw, Yale swept its opponents. Sherry Li opened her tournament with a comfortable 6–0, 6–3 win over her Farleigh Dickinson opponent, while Amos defeated her Providence College competitor, 6-4, 6-3. Ree Ree Li had a come-from-behind win over Emma Alderman of UConn, posting a 3–6, 6–3, 6–2 victory.
“I felt that our performance at Regionals, both as a team and for myself personally, displayed that we’ve made progress since the beginning of the year,” Sherry Li said. “We’ve come out of Regionals with a good sense of what’s been working for us and what needs to be improved, which is a good thing this early in the year.”
Yu and Hamilton, who received byes in the first round, joined the tournament in the second round of singles play. Yale was able to capture wins in three out of its five singles matches. Sherry Li, Yu and Hamilton all advanced to the third round after three-set victories.
Yu, ranked No. 103 in the nation by the ITA, continued to excel. After the third round of singles play, she was the only Yalie still alive. She earned a quarterfinal spot after defeating Johanna Hyoty of Boston University 7–6(4), 6–3. She then recorded a decisive 6–2, 6–1 win over Boston College’s Lexi Borr, advancing to the semifinals.
In one of the most competitive matches of the weekend, Yu overcame Taylor Ng of Dartmouth, 7–5, 3–6, 6–4, sending her into the championship match. However, Yu did not walk away the singles victor, as she lost to Jessica Waknik of Boston College, 3–6, 2–6.
“I was pretty surprised,” Yu said of her success at the tournament. “I didn’t really have many expectations. It’s my senior year; I was just trying to have fun. It turned out to be a great way to almost finish off the fall season.”
The Elis were equally impressive in doubles play. Three doubles pairs entered the tournament — Yu and Ree Ree Li, Carol Finke ’18 and Sherry Li, and Hamilton and Valerie Shklover ’18.
Yu and Ree Ree Li set the tone with a comfortable 8–1 victory over a pair from Niagara and followed up with an 8–6 win over Ivy League rivals Marika Cusick and Priyanka Shah of Cornell. Similarly, Finke and Sherry Li swept over a duo from LIU and later defeated a St. John’s pair.
“It was a thrill to play doubles and represent Yale at home,” Finke said. “Sherry and I played solid matches together and we are just improving together as a team.”
While Finke and Sherry Li were defeated by a Cornell tandem in the third round, Yu and Ree Ree Li continued to impress. The duo overcame pairs from Syracuse, Harvard and finally St. John’s to earn a spot in the championship match.
Yu sought redemption in doubles after her loss in the singles final, but Yale walked away empty-handed from the doubles championship as well. Yu and Li were defeated in two sets by the Columbia pair of Rima Asatrian and Kanika Vaidya, 6–2, 6–2.
“After last season, people are underestimating us, but this was a great tournament to show everyone in the northeast region that we are definitely still up there,” Yu said. “We made a statement.”
The Bulldogs will next travel to Evanston, Ill. to compete in the Wildcat Invitational beginning Nov. 7.