“Let’s go!” sophomore Caroline Dunleavy ’21 yelled, pumping her fist as the ball sailed out of bounds, clinching the match point in her doubles match with first-year Raissa Lou ’22.
At the end of a long and grueling match in the heat on Sunday afternoon, well after all other doubles matches had finished, it seemed that Brown might be able sneak out a win in the tiebreaker sets. But in the end, Dunleavy and Lou came through in one of many triumphs for the Yale women’s tennis team this weekend at the Bulldog Invitational.
“In terms of the tournament, I think it was really successful,” Kathy Wang ’22 said. “We played teams that we had tough losses to last year, and we did pretty well this weekend, so the future looks promising. Of course, we always strive to keep getting better, and this tournament showed many opportunities for improvement, especially in doubles.”
In the 2017–18 campaign the Bulldogs finished 6-18, dropping all their Ivy League matches. However, the team reversed last season’s fortunes by claiming more combined singles and doubles match victories than all three of its opponents this weekend at home.
Many of Yale’s returners remembered losing to UMass and Brown — two of their three opponents from this weekend a season ago. But the first-years were just anxious to start their collegiate careers on a high note.
“I was excited and nervous to compete for the first time at the collegiate level,” Jessie Gong ’22 said. “Every time I step onto the court I just want to do what I can to help my team be successful.”
The Bulldogs began the Yale Invitational on Friday, taking on Boston University. Although results only counted for individuals in this early fall-season tournament, Yale performed exceptionally well as a team.
The Elis clobbered the Terriers in six out of eight singles matches and three out of four doubles matches. Especially impressive was the play of the Bulldog rookies including Lou, Gong, Wang and Dunleavy, a transfer student from Notre Dame.
“I was really impressed with the way our four new players handled their first matches in a Yale jersey,” head coach Danielle McNamara said. “Raissa Lou went undefeated in singles and doubles this weekend as a freshman, which is a great start for her.”
Lou and Yale carried their momentum into Saturday by topping the Minutewomen in six of eight singles matches and splitting their four doubles matches. Although this match didn’t count for team results, it was nice for Yale, who had lost to the Minutewomen last year, to walk away on Saturday with such a resounding victory.
The second day of competition displayed the Bulldogs’ new found toughness, unbenounced to many observers.
“One part of the tournament that really stood out to me was that even though a good part of our team was sick, no one watching could tell because we were constantly fighting for every point and playing high intensity tennis. “ Wang said.
On Sunday, the Elis rounded out the weekend with another successful day against Brown, splitting the six individual matches and beating the Bears in three out of four doubles matches. Although the team dropped a trio of singles contests, all three losses were quite close: two in three sets and and another in consecutive 7-5 sets, whereas the three individual victories came easily in straight sets.
By topping an Ivy League opponent and finishing the tournament 3–0, Yale managed to protect its home court and set up momentum. Moving forward, the team will prepare for the ITA Northeast Regionals, a six-day qualifier for the ITA National Oracle event in November. Yale, who is hosting this event, hopes to send many players deep into the tournament.
“It was a great weekend for Yale Women’s Tennis and we’re excited to build upon this experience for our next tournament which is Regionals,” captain Amy Yang ’19 said.
The Bulldogs step back onto the court on October 11 in the first round of the ITA Northeast Regional hosted at Yale.
Emmett Shell | firstname.lastname@example.org .