No. 30 Bulldogs in N.C. for NCAA Tournament

The Yale women's tennis huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
The Yale women's tennis huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale Faces No. 43 William & Mary Saturday Morning at Duke

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Ivy League Champion Yale women's tennis team is in Durham, N.C., for the NCAA Tournament at Duke's Ambler Stadium this weekend. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 30 in the country, will play No. 43 William & Mary on Saturday at 9 a.m.  The winner faces the winner of the match between No. 3 Duke and Richmond. The second-round match takes place Sunday at 2 p.m.


About the Bulldogs

Yale (21-4, 6-1 Ivy League) shared the Ivy League title with Dartmouth but earned the league's sole 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 (1980, 1981, 1983, 1989, 2008 and 2011). 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 by a cumulative score of 28-7. They have also won 17 of their last 19. All four of Yale's losses this season were to teams currently ranked in the top 50, and three were to teams currently ranked in the top 23

Yale's top three singles players -- junior Vicky Brook (London, England), sophomore Elizabeth Epstein (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Blair Seideman (Glen Head, N.Y.) -- were all recently named second team All-Ivy League. Epstein, playing primarily No. 2, is 18-6 in singles in the spring and reached a peak ranking of No. 88. Seideman leads the team in singles wins with 20 (against only four losses). She is currently riding a 10-match win streak and has not lost a set in that span. Her last loss was Mar. 16, and she has won 16 of her last 17 matches.

Junior Steph Kent (Washington Depot, Conn.) has gone 16-4 for the spring, with all but one of those wins coming at the No. 4 spot. Freshman Annie Sullivan (Deerfield, Ill.) has gone 19-5, playing primarily at No. 5. Senior Stevi Petrelli (Harrison, N.Y.), Yale's captain, is 14-7 and came up with one of the biggest wins of the season at the No. 6 spot, taking a three-set thriller at Brown in the regular season finale for a 4-3 Yale win that clinched the Ivy League title and the automatic NCAA berth for the Bulldogs.

Yale has won the doubles point in nine of its last 10 matches. The team of Sullivan and senior Lindsay Clark (Bernardsville, N.J.), which ended the regular season as Yale's No. 1, won four of five matches and earned a second team All-Ivy selection. Brook and Epstein went 3-0 at No. 2, and the freshmen combo of Seideman and Kim Szokol (Winnetka, Ill.) went 9-1 at No. 3.

Clark, Szokol and senior Silia DeFilippis (Short Hills, N.J.) all have the ability to contribute to Yale's singles lineup as well.


Yale in the NCAA Tournament

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. Lynn Rosenstrach '91 made a pair of appearances as a singles player in 1989 and 1991, including pushing Arizona State's Krista Amend to a third set before falling in the first round in 1989. Connie Yowell '85 was a part of a pair of straight-set wins in 1983, taking her first-round singles match vs. Northwestern's Courtney Lord and teaming with Kate Gressens '84 for a doubles win over a team from Miami. Yowell lost in straight sets in the second round as a singles player, and a team from Cal eliminated Gressens and Yowell in three sets in the second round.

Clark and Petrelli are the only Bulldogs with NCAA Tournament experience, as both played in Yale's match at Georgia three years ago. Petrelli played No. 6 singles. After losing the first set 7-5 she was tied in the second set, 2-2, when the match ended because Georgia had clinched the win (final score 4-0). Petrelli also played No. 3 doubles in that match, losing 8-3.  Clark played No. 2 doubles, and her match was unfinished after Georgia won at No. 1 and No. 3 to take the doubles point. Clark also lost at No. 3 singles.


Yale Coaches Honored

Yale women's tennis head coach Danielle McNamara and assistant coach Christian Thompson have been honored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for their efforts. McNamara and Dartmouth's Bob Dallis have been named Northeast Region Coaches of the Year, and Thompson has been named Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year.


Scouting William & Mary

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.


Scouting Yale's Potential Second Round Opponents

No. 3 Duke (22-4) is making its 22nd consecutive appearance and 23rd overall in the NCAA Tournament. Duke is 18-1 all-time in first round matches and has advanced to the second round of the tournament in each of the previous 22 seasons. The Blue Devils won the National Championship in 2009.

The Blue Devils feature a pair of players, Nadine Fahoum and Reka Zsilinszka, who were selected to compete in NCAA singles competition in addition to playing for the team championship. Fahoum has primarily played at No. 1, with Zsilinszka, the ITA Carolina Regional Senior of the Year, at No. 3. Fahoum and Ellah Nze, the Blue Devils' No. 1 doubles team, were also selected to compete in the doubles competition.

The Blue Devils' Rachel Kahan, the 2011 ACC Freshman of the Year and the ITA Carolina Regional Freshman of the Year, has won 26 straight matches in singles competition heading into the tournament. She has played primarily at the No. 5 spot.

All six of Duke's singles players are nationally ranked, led by Zsilinszka at No. 20, Fahoum at No. 39 and Elizabeth Plotkin at No. 72. Mary Clayton at No. 83, Kahan at No. 89 and Nze at No. 106 round out the list. Kahan and Nze are No. 52 in doubles, Fahoum and Hanna Marr are No. 55 and Clayton and Monica Gorny are No. 90.

Richmond (14-5), the Atlantic-10 Champion, is making its 10th overall NCAA appearance and third in a row. The Spiders have never advanced past the first round.

Richmond has won five matches in a row and features two first team all-conference selections in No. 1 Helen Cunningham and No. 2 Joanna Matuszcyk, who went 12-5 in singles. Kelly Tidwell was a second team all-conference selection, the fourth time in her career she has been named all-conference.


About the NCAA Tournament

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.


Live Coverage

All of the women's tennis matches at Duke this weekend will feature live video streaming on free of charge. Streaming will begin five minutes before the start of a match and last through the conclusion of the contest. Live stats will also be available on


Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity