W. Tennis Falters at ECACs
The Harvard women's tennis team, playing without captain Ivy Wang, went for its third straight ECAC Championship last weekend at Princeton. The third time was not the charm for the Crimson, as it lost a heartbreaking 5-4 match to Yale to drop out in the second round. In the consolation round, it lost another squeaker by an identical score to B.C. Despite the overall results, Harvard Coach Gordon Graham was still upbeat about the results.
"Given that we were playing without Ivy Wang, which, understandably, is a big loss, I thought we did great," Graham said. "The fashion we played against Brown and Yale was heart-stopping, coming from behind in the last two matches. I think that this was a good experience to know that we can win without Ivy."
Harvard had to fight hard to escape the first round. It was matched against Brown, a team it had seen at the Brown Invitational the previous weekend. It split the six singles matches: sophomore Sanaz Ghazal, freshman Andrea Magyera and junior Aparna Ravi won their matches, while junior Vedica Jain, freshman Fleur Broughton and junior Roxanna Curto fell to their Brown counterparts.
Ghazal played one of the most exciting matches of the day, defeating sophomore Heather Young 6-1, 6-7(1), 7-5.
Jain also played a valiant match, taking Saranga Sangakkara, ranked No. 57 nationally, to three sets, although she eventually fell, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
With the singles tied, the match was decided in the doubles. Jain and Magyera, playing number one, upset Sangakkara and senior Julie Martynova, 9-7. Ghazal and Broughton dropped their match, 8-4, to senior Leela Raju and Young, tying the overall score at 4-4 and leaving the match to the number three doubles combo of freshman Sarah McGinty and junior Roxanna Curto. They fell behind 7-3 but came back to win in the tiebreaker, 7-2.
"That was a great match for Sarah and Roxanna," Broughton said. "They hadn't played together before, and they showed a lot of heart. This was also Sarah's first team tournament, and she showed that she'll be a great contributor."
That would be the last of the Crimson's good fortune, as its next two matches slipped away by the smallest of margins.
In the second round against Yale, Harvard was down 2-4 after the singles. Magyera and Broughton each won in straight sets over Cynthia Obsitnik and Susie Hiniker. But Jain dropped a three-setter to Samer Khanlarian at number one, and Gazal, Curto and Ravi all lost in straight sets.
It looked like the Crimson's tournament was over, as Yale needed only one doubles win to clinch the match. But Jain and Magyera smashed the Bulldog's number one doubles team, Khanlarian and Obsitnik, 8-4. Next, McGinty and Curto topped Liz Oosterhuis and Kirsten Gross, 8-6 to tie the team score at 4-4.
Broughton and Ghazal, coming off a sub-par day against Brown, fell behind 7-3, putting the team one game from elimination. But they fought back to tie the score and then take the lead 8-7. But they lost the next game and came up short in the tiebreaker, 7-5. The tiebreaker win allowed Yale to advance to the semifinals.
"When we got down 7-3, we started playing really aggressive, coming in to the net, playing our best tennis," Broughton said. "And I was serving for the match, but we just couldn't hold on."
The Crimson fared no better in the consolation round. It came out flat against B.C. and dropped five of the six singles matches, which gave the Eagles the win, regardless of the doubles' outcome. Even so, Harvard made the score respectably by winning all three doubles matches.
The number one and three combos of Jain/Magyera and McGinty/Curto both made it through the tournament unscathed, 3-0, in doubles, which bodes well for the Crimson in the spring season, when regular dual-match play begins and matches often come down to the doubles' scores.
"I think this tournament was an indicator of the heart this team has," Graham said. "I have a good feeling about the spirit of the whole team, especially the doubles. This doubles play will be a great asset to the team and will give us a lot of confidence. It's still early in the season, but we got a flash of what everyone can do. This was a good indicator of where we're at."
This week, Magyera is representing the Crimson at the All-America Championships in Pacific Palisades, Cal. Harvard will also send a representative to the Rolex Regional Championships in Syracuse October 31.
That player, however, will not be Harvard's ace.
"It's really up in the air right now," Wang said. "All I can do without going to surgery is rehabilitation with the Thera-Band. My shoulder has been hurting me for almost half a year, and if the rehab doesn't work out well, I might need to opt for surgery.
"I'm shooting for the spring season, because that's when we have the team matches, which are more important than the individual matches in the fall," she said. "But I think the team is holding up well without me. Everyone has been taking care of her own matches and playing her own role."