Women’s tennis upsets opponents to win ECAC tournament

by Chanelle Qi | 2/9/15 3:15pm

The women’s tennis team traveled to Ithaca, New York this past weekend to compete in the three-day ECAC Division I Indoor Championship, bringing home its first ECAC Winter Championship title. Dartmouth entered the tournament seeded fourth, defeating No. 5 seeded Brown University and pulling upset wins over No. 1 seeded Princeton and No. 2 seeded Columbia Universities. The three victories extended the women’s stellar season record to 8-0.

The women started off ECAC competition with a strong showing against Brown (3-2) on Friday. The duo of Taylor Ng ’17 and Kristina Mathis ’18 swept Brown in No. 1 doubles with a score of 6-0, while the No. 3 doubles team Akiko Okuda ’15 and Julia Schroeder ’18 clinched the doubles point for the Big Green by defeating Brown 6-4.

In singles play, Schroeder brought in Dartmouth’s first point with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 6 singles. Ng continued her singles success for the season, winning at No.1 singles with a score of 6-4, 6-3. Jacqueline Crawford ’17 sealed the win for Dartmouth, completing her match with a score of 7-5, 6-1 at No. 4 singles.

Crawford’s singles match was particularly notable, as she was able to fight back from a 2-5 first-set deficit. Crawford cited her fellow teammates as sources of encouragement throughout the close set.

“In my match against Brown, two of my teammates on the courts next to me were dominating their opponents and playing with a lot of drive, and I think I was able to benefit from that energy,” Crawford said.

Dartmouth women’s tennis only grew stronger on Saturday during its semifinal against Princeton (1-5). Okuda and Schroeder were the first off the court, winning 6-3 at No. 3 doubles. Ng and Mathis also had a strong performance against Princeton’s No. 1 doubles team, capturing the doubles point after nabbing a 6-3 victory and placing Dartmouth at a 1-0 lead going into singles matches.

In singles play, No. 6 player Schroeder defeated Princeton’s Sivan Krems handedly with a score of 6-2, 6-2. No. 2 player Katherine Yau ’16 continued the Big Green’s domination over Princeton with a 6-4, 6-4 victory, and Ng sealed the deal on Dartmouth’s upset with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 1 singles.

The women’s 4-0 triumph over Princeton demonstrated the great strides that the team has made in the past year. The Princeton women’s team won the Ivy League Championship in 2014, going undefeated in the Ivies throughout the season.

In the finals of the ECAC tournament, Dartmouth faced No. 2 seeded Columbia (2-3). The Big Green women battled hard in doubles play, with Ng and Mathis as the first match off the courts with a 6-4 victory. No. 3 doubles Okuda and Schroeder then fell to Columbia’s Milstein and Viadya 6-3. A tight 7-5 match won by Yau and Alexxis Kiven ’18 , however, gave the Big Green the doubles point and the 1-0 advantage going into singles.

Yau and Kiven fell only to the Princeton team in doubles play for the entirety of the ECAC Championship. The junior and freshman duo’s great team dynamic and ability to compete under pressure was evident in their doubles match against Columbia.

“Being the deciding point for doubles and down a break, we were definitely nervous,” Yau said. “However, we were able to break back when it mattered the most, and were rewarded for taking risks during big points.”

Kiven also commented on the importance of a doubles partner as a source of support during games.

“[Yau] hits really solidly, so it’s easy to be at the net,” Kiven said. “She’s also very positive on the court during the doubles. We’re both aggressive players, so when she’s hitting through her shots with confidence that gives me confidence to hit my shots.”

The women proceeded to sweep their singles matches against Columbia. Okuda brought in the first singles point for Dartmouth with a 6-0, 7-5 victory in No. 5 singles, and Schroeder followed the performance with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 6 singles. Once again, No. 1 singles Ng took home the remaining win, finishing her match with a score of 6-3, 6-3.

Dartmouth only lost one point during the ECAC Championship, a large improvement from its fifth-place finish in 2014. The women’s strong performance cemented its position as one of the dominant teams in the Ivy League.

“We wanted to prove our standing to the league, since we knew we had the skill and that it was just a matter of executing during competition,” Crawford said. “We’ve been more cohesive than ever this season.”

After winning the ECACs, the women’s team looks forward to maintaining their performance for the rest of the season.

“We’ve never done so well in terms of beating teams so convincingly, so it just gives us more momentum going into future matches,” Yau said. “I think now that we’re one of the teams to beat, other teams will approach us differently. However, I think we’ll be able to build off of that, and keep up the momentum.”

Next, the women will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Feb. 21 to compete against Drake University and the University of Minnesota. Meanwhile, the men will compete in their ECAC Championship this weekend, beginning Feb. 13 at Harvard University.