Steve Musco

Extending its winning streak to four games, the Yale women’s tennis launched itself into the start of Ivy League play with a victory, defeating Brown 4–1.

The Bears (8–9, 0–1 Ivy) hosted the Bulldogs (9–8, 1–0) in a matchup of teams with identical records on Saturday in Providence. For the second time in the last three matches, the Elis gained an early edge by earning a victory in the doubles point. In singles, Samantha Martinelli ’21 avenged her loss against the same Brown competitor from September — defeating Devon Jack 6–2, 6–2 in the No. 1 match — while No. 2 Caroline Dunleavy also picked up a crucial win.

“We had a great win on Saturday at Brown to kick off the Ivy season,” head coach Danielle McNamara said. “It was a tough match and a great experience for us because the conditions were challenging, the crowd was rowdy, and it was the first ever Ivy League match for four of our starting six singles players, so naturally there were some nerves. I thought we competed really well and stepped up in some very critical moments of the match to secure the win.”

Bringing back the powerful doubles pairing of Jessie Gong ’22 and Martinelli proved to be a successful strategy for the Elis, with the top-60 ranked combination claiming a 6–2 victory against Jack and Courtney Kowalsky from Brown. Soon after, Dunleavy and Raissa Lou ’22 defeated their Bear adversaries in the No. 2 doubles match to secure the doubles point before Yale dropped the third set.

The White and Blue similarly controlled the singles matches, winning three games compared to Brown’s lone victory. With its fourth straight win, the Bulldogs demonstrated a propensity to bounce back from four straight losses at the beginning of March.

Looking forward, the Bulldogs have a tough road ahead of them with matches against the remaining seven Ivy League squads to cap off the regular season. But as the end of the 2018–19 campaign draws closer, the team appears stronger than ever.

“As a whole, our team is in really good shape,” Kathy Wang ’22 said. “We had solid doubles and singles wins against a really good team. Our line one doubles played really well and our line two doubles came back from 0-3 down which allowed us get the doubles point and is especially important momentum-wise. I’m really proud of how the team battled against some tough conditions and stayed mentally strong. Of course, this was only our first Ivy match but the rest of our season looks equally promising.”

After losing to Brown 4–3 in its first Ivy match the 2018 spring season, Yale’s victory signified a great leap in performance over the course of the season. Though the previous matchups against Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth will not count towards this season’s conference standings, Yale’s 4–3 win over the Crimson and 4–1 win over the Big Green at the ECAC Indoor Championships in February could foreshadow continued Ivy success.

The Elis posted an 0–7 mark in their 2017–18 Ancient Eight matches, but they will look to considerably improve this record in its seven remaining games.

“We’ve been improving steadily throughout the season and challenged ourselves with our non-conference schedule in order to peak in April,” McNamara said. “I know that everyone is incredibly excited about hosting Columbia and Cornell this coming weekend.”

Yale’s home match against No. 35 Columbia on Saturday will be a tough yet pivotal battle in the race for the Ivy League title before the Bulldogs host Cornell on Sunday.

Margaret Hedeman | margaret.hedeman@yale.edu