Women’s tennis splits weekend outings

by Chanelle Qi | 4/12/15 5:12pm

After a narrow loss to No. 56 Princeton University 4-3 on Saturday, the No. 37 women’s tennis team edged out the University of Pennsylvania 4-3 on Sunday on the back of a match-clinching three-set victory by Taylor Ng ’17 at No. 1 singles.The match against the Princeton team (11-7, 5-0 Ivy), which sits atop the Ivy League, proved close from the very beginning, as the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams fought tooth and nail in their matches.

After staying close to begin doubles play, the No. 1 duo of Ng and Kristina Mathis ’18 was bested by a score of 8-6, and the No. 2 doubles team of co-captains Katherine Yau ’16 and Akiko Okuda ’15 also played a tight match, ending with a loss of 8-5.

With the team entering singles play down 0-1, the Big Green would need to mount a comeback in order to seal a victory. No. 5 player Okuda was the first to come off the courts, falling in a tough match against Princeton sophomore Dorothy Tang 7-6, 6-4.

No. 4 Jacqueline Crawford ’17 responded by bringing in the first victory of the day for the Big Green, dispatching her opponent 6-2, 7-5. Despite the victory, the women’s deficit grew to 3-1, as No. 2 player Yau lost her match in two close sets 6-4, 7-6.

The women’s team refused to quit fighting, though, and Ng continued her brilliant season as the top seed for the Big Green, extending her record in the position over the weekend to 20 wins out of her 21 matches.

After dropping her first set 6-4, Ng controlled the rest of the match and ultimately took the win 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, bringing the Big Green back to within one point of the Tigers.

No. 3 Mathis also encountered a difficult match, battling through a first-set defeat to take the second 7-5 and completely dominate the third set 6-0, tying the overall match score at 3-3.

“I definitely went through a lot of ups and down [in my match],” Mathis said. “The momentum changed a lot, and being down 1-4 in the second set was really negative for me. However, I began to hear a lot of cheering from my teammates, which pumped me up and allowed me to finish the match strong.”

With the score tied, the outcome of the match fell on the shoulders of No. 6 Julia Schroeder ’18. Like the two previous matches that ended in three sets, the deciding match against Princeton led to extremely close points and little margin for error.

After dropping the first set 7-5, Schroeder won the second by the same score to keep hopes of a win alive. Princeton Senior Katie Goepel ran away with the deciding match in the third set, however, and secured the victory for the Tigers with her 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 win.

“Everyone fought really hard, and every match was extremely competitive,” Crawford said. “[Schroeder] especially handled the pressure of being a deciding match really well. It was a tough loss, but we were ready to bounce back afterwards.”

The women went on the play Penn outdoors on Sunday. The Big Green reversed its fortune in the doubles matches and quickly took control in its matches against the Quakers, which would ultimately prove critical in its 4-3 victory over Penn.

The No. 1 doubles team of Ng and Mathis won 8-3, and the No. 3 doubles team of Schroeder and Lexxi Kiven ’18 won 8-5 to give the Big Green the early advantage.

The 1-0 lead provided the women with momentum going into singles matches. Yau quickly finished her match at No. 2, ending with a score of 6-0, 6-3 and putting the women ahead 2-0. The two teams split the next pair of matches as No. 5 Okuda fell 6-1, 6-0, followed by No. 3 Mathis winning her match in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

The women’s 3-1 lead soon disappeared, though, as No. 4 Crawford and No. 6 Schroeder both fell in straight sets with respective scores of 6-4, 6-2, and 6-2, 6-4.

The deciding match of the day was also possibly one of the most nerve-wracking singles matches that the Dartmouth team has encountered this season. The Big Green’s No. 1 player Ng fought back from a 5-6 deficit to win the first set in a tiebreaker against Penn’s Sol Eskenazi, the 2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and three-time First Team All-Ivy Singles and doubles player.After winning the first set, Ng looked primed to run away with the match, jumping out to a 5-2 lead. Eskenazi, however, fought back and forced a second set tiebreaker. Ng couldn’t hold on to take the match in straights, so the hotly contested match went to a deciding third set.In the third set, Ng continued to fend off her opponent’s aggressive baseline play, but the two competitors remained neck-and-neck as the deciding third set went to a match-deciding tiebreaker.

By remaining aggressive and attacking the net, Ng clinched the match and cemented the team’s overall win with her 7-6, 6-7, 7-6(5) victory. The match lasted over three hours, testing Ng’s mental and physical endurance.

“We work a lot on forgetting past points and concentrating on the present,” Ng said. “It’s easy to dwell on being ahead in a set and then losing, but I think moving forward and focusing at the point at hand helped the most.”

The women resume conference play next weekend, as they host Brown University on Friday at 2 p.m, followed by a match against Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on Sunday.