NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This weekend, the No. 35 Yale women's tennis team will travel to Ann Arbor to compete against No. 10 Michigan, No. 21 Notre Dame and No. 40 Maryland in the ITA Kickoff Tournament.
Yale will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament, and will start off with a match against Notre Dame on Saturday at 2 p.m. Should the Bulldogs win, they will advance to the championship to face off against the winner of Michigan and Maryland on Sunday afternoon, and should they lose they will play the loser in the morning. The winner of the tournament will advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship from February 10-13 in Virginia.
Notre Dame boasts the No. 5 ranked doubles pair nationally in Shannon Mathews and Kristy Filling, as well as the No. 25 team in Britney Sanders and Katherine White.
In contrast, Yale has three ranked doubles pairs. The ranked pairs start at No. 16, with senior Vicky Brook and freshman Hanna Yu. They are followed up at No. 39 by sophomore Blair Seideman and senior captain Steph Kent and at No. 59 by freshman Amber Li and sophomore Annie Sullivan.
Neither team has a nationally ranked singles player, but both dominate their regional rankings. In the Midwest region, Notre Dame has four of the top 20 players, with Frilling at No. 4, Mathews at No. 5, Jennifer Kellner at No. 15, and Sanders at No. 16. Yale has four of the top 15 players in the Northeast, with junior Elizabeth Epstein leading the pack at No. 2. She is followed in the rankings by Yu at No. 3, Brook at No. 7, and Seideman at No. 13.
Should Yale face Michigan, they will face a strong team that has four individual players ranked in the top 115, with No. 36 Emina Bektas, No. 46 Brooke Bolender, No. 53 Sam Critser and No. 113 Mimi Nguyen, as well as the No. 24 ranked doubles pair, composed of Bektas and Bolender.
Maryland boasts the No. 28 singles player in Cristina Stancu as well as the No. 37 doubles pair with Ana Belzunce and Welma Luis.
Along with the regular motivation that comes from competition, the weekend's matches hold personal significance for Yale's coaches. Head Coach Danielle McNamara graduated from Michigan, and was highly decorated during her time there, winning the Big Ten Sportswoman of the Year in 1999 and making the All-Big Ten team in 1998. In addition, Assistant Coach Christian Thompson graduated from Notre Dame, where she was a three-time All-American.
Fans can follow along with the tournament here.
Report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity