May 3, 2011

No. 30 Bulldogs Draw No. 43 William & Mary in NCAA Tournament

Match to be Played at No. 3 Duke Saturday, May 14

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Members of the 2011 Ivy League champion Yale women's tennis team gathered in the third floor classroom of Ray Tompkins House Tuesday evening to learn which team they would face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Having earned an automatic bid helped ease the tension somewhat as the Bulldogs waited for 45 teams' names to be called on the selection show before Yale finally appeared on the screen. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 30 in the latest ITA poll, will play No. 43 William & Mary at No. 3 Duke's Ambler Tennis Stadium at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 14. The Blue Devils host both the first- and second-round matches in that bracket, which also includes Richmond. The second-round match takes place May 15 at 2 p.m.

Yale (21-4, 6-1 Ivy League) shared the Ivy League title with Dartmouth but earned the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by virtue of the tiebreaker advantage (Yale beat Dartmouth 5-2 on Apr. 17). This was the Bulldogs' sixth Ivy League crown. Yale also won its third straight ECAC Indoor Team Championship this year.

The Bulldogs enter the NCAA Tournament on a roll, having won five matches in a row and 17 of their last 19. Five Bulldogs recently earned All-Ivy League honors, including second team All-Ivy League singles selections for junior Vicky Brook (London, England), sophomore Elizabeth Epstein (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Blair Seideman (Glen Head, N.Y.). The team of senior Lindsay Clark (Bernardsville, N.J.) and freshman Annie Sullivan (Deerfield, Ill.) was a second team selection in doubles.

This is Yale's second appearance as a team in the NCAA Tournament. In 2008, the Bulldogs lost in the first round at Georgia. Yale also had singles players in the tournament three times (1983, 1989 and 1991) and a doubles team in the tournament in 1983.

William & Mary (16-8) has won seven matches in a row, including three in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament to earn its 21st CAA Championship. This is William & Mary's  18th NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2008, when the Tribe beat North Carolina State 4-0 in the first round before falling 4-1 to Duke in the second round.

The Tribe features the No. 43 doubles team in the country, Anik Cepeda and Hope Johnson. Cepeda and Johnson were first team All-CAA selections in doubles, as was Marlen Mesgarzadeh in singles. Mesgarzadeh was 8-1 at No. 2 and brings a six-match winning streak into the tournament.

Cepeda was also a second team All-CAA selection in singles, and Jeltje Loomans was a third team All-CAA selection in singles. Loomans and Lauren Sabacinski were second team selections in doubles, and Mesgarzadeh and Katie Kargl were third team selections in doubles.

Yale last played William & Mary in February of 2010, taking a 5-2 win at Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. Brook, Clark and Epstein all delivered wins in singles, as did Jessie Rhee '10. Yale also won two of three doubles matches, at No. 1 and No. 2. Overall these two teams have met 11 times, with Yale holding a 6-5 edge.

William & Mary and Yale had four common opponents in the spring. Both had 4-3 wins over No. 52 Brown; Yale's came in the last match of the season and helped the Bulldogs clinch the Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament berth. Both teams also beat Boston University (William and Mary 6-1 and Yale 7-0) and No. 63 Harvard (William & Mary 4-3 and Yale twice, 6-1 in the ECAC Indoor Team Championship and 6-1 in the regular season). Both teams played No. 50 Princeton as well; William & Mary lost 7-0 while the Bulldogs split a pair of matches. Yale beat Princeton 4-2 in February to win the ECAC Indoor Team Championship but lost to the Tigers 5-2 in April.

The 64-team single-elimination NCAA Tournament field starts with the first and second rounds May 13-15 at 16 different campus sites, with the winner of each site advancing to the Round of 16. The last four rounds, including the championship, will be held May 20-24 at the Taube Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif., hosted by Stanford.

NCAA Tournament matches are regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played best of three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at eight games all in doubles and at six games all in singles.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity