W. Tennis Pounds On Big Red, Lions In Opener
The Harvard women's tennis team tore its way through the Ivy League this weekend, handing Columbia a 5-2 defeat Saturday afternoon in Ithaca, N.Y., and escaping with a close 4-3 victory over Cornell Friday.
"We've been training [for the Ivies] all year long, and now we feel really prepared and confident," said senior Sanah Ghazal. "It's nice to have two wins under our belt already."
The Crimson (9-7, 2-0 Ivy) won two of its three doubles matches against Columbia and added victories in singles action from Ghazal, sophomore Sanja Bajin, junior Fleur Broughton and junior Jennie Timoney.
The Crimson's No. 1 doubles team of Bajin and Ghazal won an easy 8-3 victory over the Lions' Joyce Chang and Weintraub. Broughton and Andrea Magyera, playing as the No. 2 team, defeated Shelly Mittal and Etel Bugescu, 8-4.
In Harvard's only doubles loss, Columbia's Melissa Nguyen and Leena Krishnaswamy overwhelmed the Crimson's Lola Ajilore and junior Sarah McGinty, 8-5.
After the doubles matches had finished, the focus turned to the top four singles matches. Playing at the No. 3 spot, Broughton was the first Crimson player at bat, coming away with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Chang.
The battle between the top two players, Bajin and Nguyen, was filled with exciting baseline grounders, but Bajin eventually overpowered Nguyen, 6-3, 6-4.
The highlight of the tournament was the No. 2 match-up between Ghazal and Mittal, which was the only match to last three sets. After splitting the first two sets, Ghazal surged ahead to take a commanding 4-1 lead in the third set, but Mittal soon rebounded to tie the game at four. Ultimately, Ghazal inched ahead to ultimately win the third set, 7-6.
"[Mittal] started to play really well, but I tried to maintain focus," Ghazal said. "I also had my teammates cheering me on, and it was good to have so much support behind me."
Columbia's Krishnaswamy, playing in the No. 4 spot, defeated Lara Naquashbandi, 6-1, 7-6, in one of only two singles losses for the Crimson. In the No. 5 match, the Lions' Etel Bugescu defeated Ajilore in two sets, 6-3, 6-4.
During the Crimson's 4-3 victory over Cornell Friday, Harvard won all three of its doubles matches. Ajilore and McGinty, playing in the No. 3 slot, defeated their opponents, 8-6, and Broughton-Magyera rolled to an 8-5 win.
Bhajin and Ghazal, playing in the No. 1match-up, faced a little more difficulty. They pulled ahead, 5-2, but their opponents caught up to them, 5-4. However, Bhajin and Ghazal regained their focus and won their match, 8-4.
In singles action, Broughton, Naqushbandi and Timoney were the only Crimson players to pull out victories.
The Crimson hosts unbeaten Penn Friday afternoon and will take on Princeton, last year's Ivy League champions, Saturday afternoon.
"There will definitely be battles at every position," Ghazal said. "We're expecting a fight, but we've also started to prepare for it both physically and mentally."