Tennis teams open season on road

by Joe Clyne | 9/21/15 6:30pm

The men’s and women’s tennis teams opened their seasons this past weekend with tournaments on the road. The men participated in the Ivy Plus tournament in Princeton, New Jersey, from Friday through Sunday. On the same dates, the women competed in the Tribe Invitational at the College of William & Mary. Both teams saw mixed results in their opening matchups as the Big Green tennis players shook off the offseason dust.

The women’s team had an incredible season last year, culminating with their run to the second round of the NCAA tournament. This year, the Big Green hopes to follow up on last season’s success, Kat Yau ’16 said.

On Friday at the Tribe Invitational, the women faced difficulties in singles. Though four of the six singles matches went the full three sets, the Big Green was not able to take home a match against the University of Maryland.

Because the Big Green’s top three singles players are injured, the team’s remaining singles players had to move up to higher slots than they usually would, Yau said.

The struggles in singles play would continue for the women throughout the weekend as Dartmouth only managed to take home two singles wins over the three days of play. On Sunday, Yau beat Anna Rasmussen of Virginia Commonwealth University in three sets and Julienne Keong ’16 took down VCU’s Yana Morar in straight sets.

“Everyone felt that as the weekend went on, they were more comfortable being back playing in matches,” Sarah Bessen’16 said. “It was a great opportunity to play against teams that we don’t normally see.”

Yau was a standout performer for the Big Green all weekend, adding three doubles victories to her Sunday singles win. After taking down teams from the University of South Carolina, Marshall University and William & Mary, Yau was named to the Tribe Invitational’s All-Tournament team for doubles. Yau played with Julia Schroeder ’18, Kristina Mathis ’18 and Suzy Tan ’16 in her three doubles matches and did not lose a match.

“I’ve never really been a strong doubles player,” Yau said. “Playing a lot of doubles in college has really helped my doubles skills.”

Yau also said that her ability with the forehand could help her teammate at the net during doubles play.

The men’s team had an impressive performance this weekend in the squad’s return to action. Over the weekend, the team put together a record of 25-12 overall. The tournament’s top Big Green performers included Ciro Riccardi ’18, Diego Pedraza ’17 and Joey Haig ’19. Riccardi fell in the finals of the singles tournament while Pedraza and Haig teamed up to win the doubles championship in the event.

The men’s tournament kicked off with a bang on Friday. Eight Dartmouth players competed in the first day of action with the four doubles teams going 2-2 on the day. On the singles side, seven of the eight Big Green players came away with at least one singles win on the day. Additionally, the Big Green’s players went undefeated in their three-set matches, taking every match that went to a final set.

On the second day of the tournament, Pedraza and Haig took down teams from Harvard University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute by identical 8-3 scores to clinch a spot in the doubles semifinals.

“My partner, [Haig], is a freshman,” Pedraza said. “I didn’t know him that well because we’ve only had a week and half of preseason, but I think we really clicked together.”

In singles, Riccardi pushed his record for the tournament to 3-0 by taking down Harvard’s Nicky Hu. In the finals on the third day, Riccardi fell in straight sets to Thomas Colautti of Princeton University by a score of 7-5, 6-4.

On the doubles side of the bracket, day three was a more resounding success. Pedraza and Haig took down teams from the University of Notre Dame and Columbia University in hard-fought matchups to take home the doubles crown.

“We had very close matches and were able to execute at the right moment,” Pedraza said. “In this sport, at this level, only a few points will decide the winner.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will send representatives to the ITA All-America Championship starting Oct. 3. The men will compete in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while the women’s tournament takes place in Pacific Palisades, California.