Women’s tennis sits No. 2 in Ivy League after two win weekend

by Chanelle Qi | 4/21/15 6:01pm

The No. 31 women’s tennis team beat Brown University (10-9, 3-3 Ivy) 4-3 at home on Friday and traveled to Yale University on Sunday, winning by the same 4-3 scoreline. The team’s last five conference matches have been decided 4-3, and the Big Green has been able to scrape out four of those five wins, with its only loss in the batch coming against Princeton University (12-8, 6-1 Ivy), which clinched the 2015 Ivy League title — its second straight — with a win over Cornell University on Sunday.

The Big Green’s season record is now 17-5 and 4-2 in the Ivy League. Although it fell short of claiming the NCAA tournament bid that comes with winning the Ivy League title, the team may still have a chance of claiming an at-large bid, due to its strong overall record and high national ranking, which still places it above any other Ivy League school.

The Big Green first squared off against No. 65 Brown, starting off strong by clinching the doubles point. Co-captains Akiko Okuda ’15 and Katherine Yau ’16 kicked off the day by downing Brown’s No. 2 doubles 8-5. They were followed up with a hard-fought victory by the No. 1 duo of Taylor Ng ’17 and Kristina Mathis ’18 to secure the doubles point. Demonstrating the tenacity that has become characteristic of the women’s tennis team this season, Ng and Mathis fought their way back from a 5-7 deficit to win the match in a tiebreaker for a final score of 8-7(6).

“We started a little slow against Brown and didn’t have a lot of energy at first, but we started to pump ourselves up toward the end of the match and looked at things a little more positively,” Mathis said.

Armed with the momentum from their 1-0 lead over Brown, the women entered singles match play. Dartmouth was quick to rack up two more points on the scoreboard, as No. 1 Ng and No. 4 Jacqueline Crawford ’17 dispatched their opponents with respective scores of 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-1.

After falling behind 3-0, the Bears clawed their way back into the competition, nabbing matches at the No. 3 and No. 5 spots. No. 5 Okuda, the lone senior on the team, faced a particularly difficult match, splitting sets with her opponent before falling in the third for a score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Before Yau could finish her match at No. 2, Julia Schroeder ’18 solidified the Big Green’s win over Brown, beating her opponent in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.

“We knew Brown was a scrappy team,” Ng said. “It’s always hard to beat a team twice, let alone three times, but I think we were really prepared.”

Dartmouth then traveled to Yale, where they replicated the same one-two punch in doubles they exhibited against Brown. No. 1 doubles Ng and Mathis won their match 8-5, and No. 2 Yau and Okuda clinched the point with an 8-4 win.

Leading 1-0, Crawford began singles matches strong for Dartmouth with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles. No. 1 Ng then came off the court with another point for the Big Green, winning her match 6-3, 6-2, stretching the lead to 3-0.

“It was kind of a revenge match, since I had previously lost to my opponent in a close match in the fall,” Ng said. “It was really cool to play her in a separate setting, and it makes a difference having a team there to support you.”

While Yale was able to get three-set wins at No. 2 and No. 5 singles, Okuda won the clinching match against the Bulldogs in a three-set victory at No. 6. Overcoming a 6-2 first-set loss, Okuda was able to turn the match around in the second set 7-5 and dominate the third set 6-1. “Getting the doubles point allowed us to play more freely in the singles matches, so that was a big advantage for us,” Crawford said. Dartmouth’s win was the first victory coach Bob Dallis has garnered against Yale in his 13 years of coaching, making the Big Green’s victory especially sweet. The women will be playing their final match of the season against Harvard next Saturday on April 25 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.