W. Tennis Draws Fresno State
And, well, it will be tough.
The Harvard women's tennis team's path through the NCAA regional looks like a rough road to travel, especially as it heads to William and Mary for its opening match of the tournament.
Drawing a seed in the 33-48 group, the No. 47 Crimson (11-11, 7-0 Ivy) will face No. 21 Fresno State (22-6), seeded in the 17-20 group.
And, should the Crimson defeat the Bulldogs, Harvard would likely face its nemesis--William and Mary (20-6).
William and Mary, the 13th seed and the 13th-ranked team in the nation, will face Maryland-Baltimore County in its first-round match.
"William and Mary is our big rival," sophomore Sanaz Ghazal said. "It's nice to have another chance at them. Hopefully we have improved since then."
But first the Crimson has to get through Fresno State, the Western Athletic Conference champions.
The Bulldogs are especially solid at the No. 1 singles slot.
Senior Dora Djilianova is the No. 6 player in the country and also is the winningest player in Bulldog history.
Djilianova is riding a 17-game win streak, including a win over No. 3 Marissa Irvin of Stanford on April 20.
This could be bad news for Harvard.
The Crimson might face the Bulldogs without captain Ivy Wang, Harvard's top player. Wang sat out most of the season with a shoulder injury, but played in a few recent Ivy League matches before aggravating it again.
"Ivy's resting," Ghazal said. "She'll try to play, but we're not sure. She makes a big difference because she will play No. 1 and it's reassuring to have her in the lineup, but we won with her and without her this year, so we are confident either way."
If Wang cannot play, junior Vedica Jain will be the likely candidate for the No. 1 slot.
Should the Crimson face William and Mary, Harvard will face a good team that it has already lost to once this season.
"It will definitely be nice to try and get some revenge," freshman Fleur Broughton said. "We'd like to improve as a team. We're training hard."
The Tribe claimed the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship for the 14th time in a row, and have won 73 consecutive league matches.
William and Mary Senior Tari Ann Toro and junior Carolijn van Rossum, are the No. 40 and No. 48 players in the country, respectively. Toro is also the CAA Player of Year and sports a singles record of 35-10. Van Rossum is 29-18 in singles play.
In doubles, Toro and senior Laura Tsaggaris are the No. 22 doubles team in the country, and van Rossum and freshman Delphine Troch are No. 31.
The Crimson have already been working hard to get to this point.
"It wasn't clear heading into the Ivy season," Ghazal said. "People had their doubts. We had a young team. But we gained confidence with each match."