NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sunday, the No. 25 Yale women's tennis team extended its ECAC Indoor Championship winning streak to a fourth consecutive year with a victory over the No. 43 Princeton Tigers at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center.
Yale kicked off the match with an 8-4 victory by the No. 37 ranked doubles pairing of junior Elizabeth Epstein and sophomore Annie Sullivan in the No. 2 spot over Princeton's Katie Goepel and Rachel Saiontz. At No. 3, the No. 41 ranked duo of senior captain Steph Kent and sophomore Blair Seideman clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 victory over Katherine Flanagan and Monica Chow. Finally, No. 27 ranked senior Vicky Brook and freshman Hanna Yu completed the sweep at No. 1, beating Hilary Bartlett and Lindsay Graff 8-7. The three victories completed a weekend of stellar doubles play from the Bulldogs, who won all nine of their matches. This extended the team's win streak to 15 consecutive victories in individual doubles matches and seven consecutive team victories.
In singles, Yu led the way for the Bulldogs against Saiontz. Playing at No. 3, the freshman dropped the first set 6-1 but came back to win the second and third sets by the same score, giving Yale a 2-0 lead.
Similarly at No. 1, Epstein dropped the first set 6-2 to Bartlett. She was also able to battle back, though, winning the second set 6-2 and taking the third 6-1 to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.
Only needing to win one more match to clinch the tournament, Yale ran into some trouble. At No. 2, Seideman dropped her match to Graff 6-2, 7-5. In the fifth spot Sullivan was matched up with Goepel and took the first set 6-4, but couldn't close out the match, losing 6-4 in the second and 6-3 in the third.
With the match at 3-2 Yale, Kent at No. 4 and freshman Amber Li at No. 6 were the only Bulldogs left in action. Both split their first two sets, putting everything on the line with two third sets determining the outcome of the match and the tournament. Kent went up 2-0 early, getting a break on Princeton's Flanigan, and further extended her lead to 5-1. Meanwhile, Li fell behind Chow 4-1. Flanigan was able to fight back against Kent, getting the score as close as 5-3, but in the end the Yale captain was too strong, winning the set 6-3 to clinch the match and the tournament for the Bulldogs. Li did not complete her match, ending play with Chow up 5-1.
Said Kent, "During my match, I was thinking about all the preparation we had in pressure situations, which gave me a lot of confidence to close out that match." Kent was referring to the simulated pressure situations that Coach Danielle McNamara puts the team through in practice.
Indeed, Kent thinks that the team's "result was more a testament to our heart and work ethic than anything else."
With the tournament victory, the two seniors on the Yale squad completed an undefeated run during their time as Bulldogs in the ECAC Indoor Championship. Both Kent and Brook played outstandingly this year, solidifying part of their legacy as Bulldogs. Both were undefeated in doubles, and Kent won all of her singles matches as well.
Topping Princeton bodes well for Yale during the Ivy League season, which will kick off on Apr. 6 and 7 against Penn and then the Tigers again. At No. 25, Yale is the highest ranked Ivy League team, followed by Brown at No. 38 and then Princeton at 43. Princeton beat Brown 4-3 in the semifinals of the tournament.
Steph Kent Match-Winning Point:
No. 1 Epstein, Yale def. Bartlett, Princeton: 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
No. 2 Graff, Princeton def. Seideman, Yale: 6-2, 7-5
No. 3 Yu, Yale def. Saiontz, Princeton: 1-6, 6-1, 6-1
No. 4 Kent, Yale def. Flanigan, Princeton: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
No. 5 Goepel, Princeton def. Sullivan, Yale: 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
No. 6 Chow, Princeton vs. Li, Yale: 6-3, 3-6, 5-1 (DNF)*
No. 1 Yu/Brook, Yale def. Bartlett/Graff, Princeton: 8-7 (5)
No. 2 Epstein/Sullivan, Yale def. Goepel/Saiontz, Princeton: 8-4
No. 3 Seideman/Kent, Yale def. Flanigan/Chow, Princeton: 8-5
Report by Calvin Bohn '14, Yale Sports Publicity