In Saturday’s match against Brown, the Yale women’s tennis team won the doubles point for the fifth time in seven conference matches. However, it was also the third time that the Bulldogs managed just one singles victory against an Ivy League opponent.
No. 67 Yale (8–13, 2–5 Ivy) entered this weekend the loser of three straight matches, and was unable to snap the skid in its regular-season finale at No. 62 Brown (15–10, 3–4) this past Saturday, falling 5–2 to the Bears. After starting conference play by winning two of their first three Ivy League matches, the Elis finished winless in their final four, matching Harvard’s 2–5 conference mark in a tie for seventh place at the bottom of the Ancient Eight standings.
“[The Ivy League this year] was tough competition,” Yale head coach Matej Zlatkovic said. “We learned as a team this year that we have to work hard every week at practice and get ready for the matches since every week is tough and challenging competition. It was great to compete against ranked opponents in our league and gain valuable experiences for the future.”
The Ivy League owned the unique distinction of being the only Division I conference to have each of its teams ranked among the ITA’s top 75 programs, with updated rankings set to be released on Tuesday.
On Saturday, after first enduring a 45-minute rain delay at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, the Bulldogs opened with a convincing victory in doubles. A 6–4 victory by Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and Tina Jiang ’17, as well as a 6–0 win by captain Ree Ree Li ’16 and Carol Finke ’18, secured the point for the Bulldogs, who finished the season with an impressive 5–2 doubles record in Ivy League play. Sherry Li ’17 and Valerie Shklover ’18 led 4–3 in the third doubles match before the Bulldogs clinched on the other courts, halting the duo’s play. Not including Saturday’s unfinished contest, the pair finished a perfect 4–0 in conference doubles play.
“Success in doubles has been important and [a] really fun aspect of this season,” Caroline Lynch ’17 said. “From the fall to the spring we’ve had some doubles pairs stay together and some switch up, but everyone has improved and competed better and better as the year went on.”
The singles matches began with evenly matched competition from the two teams, with games being traded back and forth on all courts. The Bears, however, pulled away to seize momentum in the match, breaking open the singles static with four first-set wins. Excluding success by Elizabeth Zordani ’18 in an epic three-set match on the sixth court, the Bulldogs went winless in the match’s remaining sets, as the Bears earned sweeps against Hamilton, Jiang, Ree Ree Li and Finke to seize the match victory.
With a Brown win guaranteed, Zordani nevertheless continued to battle on the far court, finally defeating Bears senior Ammu Mandalap 7–6, 4–6, 10–8 for the Bulldogs’ lone singles win of the afternoon.
“Going into the match, I really wanted to focus on what I had been working on all week in practice and making sure that I capitalized on key opportunities,” Zordani said. “I ended up winning some crucial deuce points in the first set and then I went on to win both of the tiebreakers, so it was a good test of my mental strength and discipline.”
Despite the emphatic win from Zordani to close Yale’s spring competition, the Bulldogs will nonetheless have to shoulder the program’s worst conference record and first-ever last-place finish in the team’s 37-year history throughout the offseason. With seniors Ree Ree Li, Hamilton and Courtney Amos ’16, the last Bulldogs on the active roster to hoist a championship trophy, set to graduate, the Bulldogs will begin next season anew as they try to rejoin the ranks of the conference’s top teams.
“The season overall had a lot of ups and downs, but I think it definitely shows some great potential for our future,” Ree Ree Li said. “It’s been a great learning experience and building year for the team.”
Princeton finished the season at 5–2 to win its third consecutive Ivy League championship.