The Yale women’s tennis team displayed great resiliency as it overcame a disappointing start at the ECAC Indoor Championships this past weekend to earn fifth place. After being seeded seventh, the Bulldogs surpassed expectations and built on their first competitive match of the month against Drexel, which they won 7–0 last week.
The Elis, who hosted the event this year at Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, lost on Friday with a score of 4–2 in a tight contest with Columbia. However, Yale turned the weekend around by beating Harvard 4–3 and Dartmouth 4–1 in its ensuing matches to finish fifth overall. Coming off of a winless season in 2017–18 academic year, these matches foreshadow an improved performance for the Bulldogs in the Ancient Eight later this spring.
“I think it was a really great team effort — we all showed up yesterday,” Kathy Wang ’22 said. “Just seeing your team out there with you really boosts your confidence and energy. I feel like we all just put it out on the court, and we came out with a win.”
Seeded No. 7, Yale lost against the second-seeded Lions on the first day of the indoor championships. The Elis began the match with a promising start, as they were able to clinch the doubles point, but a late push by Columbia during the singles round resulted in four Lion wins compared to Yale’s two.
The Bulldogs fell into the losers’ bracket, but did not let the subpar start slow them down. On Saturday, Yale established itself in a dominating performance over No. 3 Harvard, a significant win that the Elis were unable to claim at the ECAC Indoor Championships in 2018, when they finished last. With the score tied at 3–3, Wang played a key role by winning the No. 5 spot 3–6, 6–3 and 7–6 in a nail-biting match against the Crimson’s Rachel Eason — who was nationally ranked in the top eight of her age bracket in 2017.
“Honestly, we were down seven match points across all the courts at one point,” Wang commented regarding Saturday’s matchups. “I just think that everyone really stepped it up.”
On Sunday, the Elis defeated No. 5 Dartmouth, upsetting higher-ranked competition yet again and stealing the fifth spot with Yale easily winning the doubles point. Samantha Martinelli ’21 and Jessie Gong ’22 defeated the Big Green duo of Abigail Chiu and Racquel Lyn 6–2 before Caroline Dunleavy ’21 and Raissa Lou ’22 bested Jingyi Peng and Nina Paripovic 6–1. In the singles competition, Dunleavy won the No. 2 spot with a score of 6–3, 6–2 against Lyn. Yale also won the No. 3 and No. 4 spots.
The Bulldogs’ final score against Dartmouth ended 4–1 in a major victory that highlighted the Elis’ determination and drive. Although its season has started off on the right foot, the Blue and White team still has a long way to go if it wants to sustain its early success in 2019.
“I think the weekend went extremely well for the team,” captain Amy Yang ’19 said. “We beat both Harvard and Dartmouth, and this tournament shows just how strong and how much heart our team has. It bodes well for the upcoming season because even though we did really well this weekend, there’s a lot to learn from it and there is so much room for improvement.”
The Bulldogs head to Montgomery, Alabama, in two weeks for the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic, where they will compete in a field of eight teams.
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