The Yale women’s tennis team took on five different opponents from across the country over spring break, but it came up fruitless in all but one. While the results largely went against the Elis, the team gained valuable outdoor experience with the Ivy League season approaching.
The Bulldogs (6–11, 0–0 Ivy) started their busy week with an away match against No. 50 William & Mary (10–7, 0–0 Colonial). The Elis continued their away lineup with a trip down to Orlando, Florida, where they lost to both Clemson (8–9, 1–5 ACC) and No. 25 Central Florida (13–2, 3–0 American). To finish their spring break competition, the Bulldogs headed back home to take on UMass (8–5, 1–1 Atlantic 10) and Stony Brook (4–6, 0–0 America East), resulting in another loss and a dominant win.
“Spring break is always a time when we are able to not only get closer as a team, but to compete against very strong and challenging opponents,” captain Sunday Swett ’18 said. “In the last five days of our break, we played four matches, so I think we are headed into Ivy season feeling very match-tough.”
The Bulldogs fell 6–1 in the first match against the Tribe. The match opened with the doubles competition with the No. 2 and No. 3 pairings of Amy Yang ’19 and Valerie Shklover ’18 and Caroline Amos ’19 and Lauren Gillinov ’21 each losing 6–3 to their William & Mary counterparts. While the doubles point was secured by the Tribe, the No. 1 pairing for Samantha Martinelli ’21 and Elizabeth Zordani ’18 still finished with a 6–4 win.
In singles, William & Mary soon jumped out to a 4–0 lead, claiming victories at the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots to clinch the match. While the other matches did go to completion, the results were similarly disappointing for the Elis. No. 2 Shklover came up just short with a three-set tiebreaker loss, 2–6, 6–2, 10–4. At No. 3, Yang also succumbed in a similar fashion, losing 6–4, 1–6, 10–8 in another close match. At No. 1, Martinelli produced the lone win against the Tribe, beating Rosie Cheng, who ranks in the NCAA top 100, in straight sets 6–3, 6–3.
“During the match, I just tried to keep my thoughts on the present moment and not think too much about the end result of the match,” Martinelli said. “Whenever you get the chance to play an opponent who has a higher ranking, it’s just a great opportunity to play without any pressure and swing freely.”
The Elis continued their trip and played two matches at the United States Tennis Association National Campus against Clemson and UCF, losing 4–0 and 5–2, respectively.
Against Clemson, both the No. 2 and No. 3 Bulldog pairings each fell to their Tiger opponents 6–2, securing the doubles point for Clemson. Moving on to singles, the Bulldogs suffered three straight-set individual losses — No. 2 Yang lost 6–1, 7–5, No. 5 Swett 6–0, 6–1 and Sarah Cameron ’21 6–3, 6–2. With the Tigers clinching victory 4–0, the three other matches were cut short. At No. 1, Shklover was close to tying up her match at one set each, while No. 3 Zordani led by a set. At No. 4, Amos was stopped in the middle of a third-set tiebreaker.
The next day, the Bulldogs took on No. 25 UCF in their last nonconference away game of the season. Yet again, UCF clinched the doubles point after winning at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots against Yale’s pairings of Shklover and Gillinov as well as Amos and Yang. The singles competition was characterized by the two singles wins. Opening the singles competition, No. 2 Shklover fell in straight-sets 6–1, 6–4, while No. 1 Martinelli triumphed 6–4, 6–1. Then, at No. 6, Swett fell to her Tiger opponent 6–4, 6–1, but No. 4 Zordani won a close second set to secure her victory 6–0, 7–6 (9–7). In the deciding point, No. 3 Yang lost to Rebecca Stolmar — who sits just outside the nation’s top 100 — to finish off the UCF victory.
Returning home, the Bulldogs took on UMass on Saturday but came up short in a 4–3 loss. In the doubles competition, the Minutewomen earned the doubles point after posting a 6–3 win at No. 1 and a close 7–5 win at No. 3. The No. 2 pairing of Yang and Shklover won 6–4.
In singles, No. 1 Martinelli flourished in straight-set victory 6–4, 6–1 to tie the match at one, but UMass pulled ahead with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 against Yang and Shklover, respectively. Yale added two more points to its tally and evened the score with a straight-set win from No. 5 Zordani 6–0, 6–3 and a singles debut and comeback win from Gillinov 2–6, 6–2, 6–1. In the end, No. 6 Amos fell to her Minutewoman challenger 6–2, 6–2 to mark a UMass win. In an exhibition match, Swett lost in a third-set tiebreaker 6–4, 1–6, 10–8.
Moving into Sunday, the Bulldogs looked to clinch their first victory of the break and found success against Stony Brook. At home in their last nonconference game of the season, the Elis secured a 6–1 win.
In doubles, the No. 1 pairing of Zordani and Martinelli won 6–1. Meanwhile, No. 3 Gillinov and Swett lost 6–1, but the Bulldogs secured the doubles point with a 6–3 victory by No. 2 Shklover and Yang.
In singles, Yale won five of the six singles matches. No. 2 Yang dominated in a 6–0, 6–1 rout. She was joined in the winners’ circle by teammates Zordani and Amos, who each won 6–4, 6–4, in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively. No. 4 Shklover also won, this time 6–4, 7–5, while teammate No. 3 Gillinov won 6–3, 5–7, 6–2. The sole loss of the day came at No. 1 from Martinelli, who fell in three sets, 4–6, 7–6, 7–5.
“Playing William & Mary, Clemson and UCF was great experience for us to get some outdoor matches under our belt,” head coach Danielle McNamara said. “We learned that although these teams are talented, so are we, and that we need to continue to believe in ourselves and allow ourselves to play freely.”
The Bulldogs will open Ivy League play against Brown this Saturday at 1 p.m. in New Haven.
Cate Sawkins | email@example.com