Feb. 5, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - No. 72 Yale heads to Michigan this weekend for matches against No. 54 Western Michigan (Saturday, Noon) and No. 18 Michigan (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.). This will mark the first time this season the Bulldogs have taken on a top-20 team. It will also be a homecoming of sorts for Yale head coach Danielle Lund McNamara, who helped Michigan to its first Big Ten Championship in 1997 as a player before coming to Yale and leading the Bulldogs to an Ivy League title last season.
McNamara captained Michigan as a junior and senior, was All-Big Ten in 1999 and was the Big Ten Sportswoman of the Year in 2001. She is the only player in Michigan history to qualify for all three Grand Slam collegiate events (All-American, National Indoors and the NCAA Championships).
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to play No. 54 Western Michigan and No. 18 Michigan this weekend," McNamara said. "Our team has been working really hard all season, starting back in September, for matches such as these and I know that we're ready to compete at a very high level. I will always be a die-hard Michigan fan since it is my alma mater and where I played college tennis, however, there is no doubt that this weekend I would like nothing more than for the Bulldogs to beat the Wolverines."
This is the start of a long stretch of road matches for the Bulldogs, who will not play at home again until Mar. 21. Yale is coming off a sweep of St. John's at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center in which senior Janet Kim at No. 1 and junior Jessica Rhee at No. 2 dropped only one game each. Those two also combined for an 8-1 win at No. 1 doubles.
Seven of Yale's 19 spring semester opponents are nationally ranked (No. 15 Vanderbilt University, No. 18 University of Michigan, No. 22 University of Tennessee, No. 54 Western Michigan, No. 53 Princeton, No. 67 Penn, and No. 73 SMU). The Bulldogs' matches against Vanderbilt and Michigan will have extra meaning as they are against assistant coach Amanda Fish and McNamara's respective alma maters.
The match against SMU will come as part of a four-match spring break trip to Texas.
On January 19, the Bulldogs hosted Brown in a scrimmage. The two teams did not play with full lineups, but rather, played five singles matches and three doubles matches.
Senior Janet Kim, junior Jessica Rhee, and junior Sarah Lederhandler all won singles matches for Yale. The doubles teams of Kim and freshman Vicky Brook and Rhee and sophomore Stevi Petreelli won their respective doubles matches.
2008 Ivy League Champions
Yale posted an undefeated 7-0 record in the Ivy League to win its first Ivy League Title since 1989 and its first outright Ivy League Title since 1981. In their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, the Bulldogs fell first round against No. 2 seed Georgia.
The Bulldogs finished the year with an Intercollegiate Tennis Association East region ranking of No. 6 and an ITA national ranking of No. 74. The East Regional rank of No. 6 is the highest of an Ivy League team in the end of the year rankings. The Bulldogs trailed only William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Marshall and Virginia Tech in the end of the year regional rankings.
2008 Ivy League Player of the Year
Janet Kim became the first Yale player to earn the Ivy League Player of the Year award. Kim was 6-1 in league matches at No. 1 singles. For the third straight year, Kim was recognized with a first team All-Ivy singles selection. The selection was unanimous for Kim, who posted a 13-6 record.
Kim begins the year ranked No. 15 in the ITA East regional singles rankings.
Six Returning Starters
Kim is not the only returning starter for Yale. In fact, the Bulldogs return all six singles starters from last year's Ivy League Championship team. Sophomore Lindsay Clark, who played No. 3 singles last season and was named second team All-Ivy last season, begins the year ranked No. 24 in the East regional singles rankings. Yale also returns second team All-Ivy selection junior Jessica Rhee, who played No. 2 singles last season. Junior Sarah Lederhandler, sophomore Stevi Petrelli, and sophomore Lauren Ritz played No. 4, 5, and 6 singles last season, respectively.
One New Addition
While the Bulldogs return a full squad from last year's Ivy League Championship team, they will have to make room for freshman Vicky Brook.
The freshman from London, England, arrived at Yale this year and had an unbelievable Fall season. Shrugging off any evidence of being a newcomer to tennis at the collegiate level, Brook jumped right in at the Cissie Leary Invitational. In the tournament, Brook advanced all the way to the finals of the Red Bracket before losing. Brook followed this performance up with an even better one at the USTA Invite. Brook won the singles VI draw in the tournament. But she saved her best for the end of the fall season. She won the Yale Invitational Blue Singles Draw, the top draw of the tournament.
Now, after completing the fall season with a 12-2 record, Brook enters the dual match season with a No. 19 ranking in the ITA East Regional rankings.
The Blue Aces Fan Club
The Blue Aces Fan Club is the official fan club for the Yale Bulldogs women's tennis team. It's free to join. The perks of membership are free food at designated home matches, the opportunity to compete in games to win prizes between doubles and singles, and the chance to win a free X-Box 360.
Report Filed by Steven Horn '10, Yale Sports Publicity