After a spring break packed with play against the nation’s best, the Yale women’s tennis team lost to Brown for the fourth year in a row.
The Bulldogs (6–12, 0–1 Ivy) got off to a good start on Saturday against the Bears (8–9, 1–0) by winning the doubles point, but it was Brown who would emerge victorious after seizing four points in the singles matches to post a 4–3 victory. In the deciding game, the No. 1 players from each team battled it out to a three-set tiebreaker with Brown’s Alyza Benotto proving victorious. Saturday’s home match marked the first of seven straight matches against Ivy League competitors.
“The team had a really good match with Brown,” No. 1 Samantha Martinelli ’21 said. “We definitely fought as hard as we could and have a lot of positive things to take away. Moving forward we hope to build on those positives and compete harder than ever.”
In the doubles competition, the Bulldogs were off to a hot start. After a dominating 6–2 win at No. 1 with the pair of Samantha Martinelli ’21 and Elizabeth Zordani ’18, the Bears won the No. 2 match by the same tally. It was Yale’s No. 3 pairing of Lauren Gillinov ’21 and Sunday Swett ’18 that clinched the doubles point for the Bulldogs with a 6–4 win.
However, Brown did not rest easy. The Bears struck back to win the No. 3 match against Gillinov, 6–1, 6–2; the No. 4 match against Valerie Shklover ’18, 6–3, 7–6(5); and the No. 6 match against Caroline Amos ’19, 6–3, 6–1. Quickly, Yale’s 1–0 lead turned into a 3–1 deficit with Brown just one point from victory.
The Elis staved off the Bears for a little while longer as No. 2 Amy Yang ’19 defeated her opponent 6–4, 7–5 to keep the match alive. Her success was followed by teammate Zordani, who won her match at No. 5 in a third-set tiebreak to keep Yale in the game 7–5, 4–6, 7–6(3).
Tied at 3–3, the No. 1 match determined the victor of this Ivy contest. First-year Martinelli faced off against junior Benotto, who won second-team All Ivy honors in 2017 in singles and doubles with her since-graduated partner Dayna Lord.
Martinelli started off with the lead, winning the first-set 6–3. However, in the second set, Benotto was able to break at 5–5 and then held serve for a 7–5 win. And in the third-set tiebreaker, Benotto reigned victorious with a 7–4 success to take her match and hand her team its first Ivy victory.
The loss could be a deciding factor in this year’s Ivy League rankings. Last year, Brown finished in sixth with a 3–4 record, just one spot ahead of the Bulldogs, who tied for seventh with Columbia, having accumulated a 1–6 record.
“The fact of the matter is that there is so much parity in the Ivy League this year that on any given day anyone can beat anyone,” coach Danielle McNamara said. “The chances of us being in similar situations again this season, possibly as soon as Friday, are very high so we need to make sure we learn, leave the Brown match behind us and get ready for another tough battle.”
Yale will continue Ivy play this weekend with matches against two of last year’s three Ivy co-champions, Dartmouth and Harvard, away in Hanover on Friday at 1 p.m. and at home Sunday at 1 p.m., respectively.
Cate Sawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org