“[Saturday’s loss] was surprising because everyone’s been practicing well and playing hard,” co-captain Courtney Bergman said. “Alabama just came out with more energy and played smarter tennis, bottom line.”
The Crimson had been used to playing indoors due to the weather conditions in Cambridge. The transition to outdoor play was not necessarily easy, as heavy rain fell throughout the weekend.
“These were some of the first outdoor matches we’ve played,” sophomore Preethi Mukundan said. “They were both difficult matches. Both teams fought really hard.”
Saturday’s match was originally scheduled for 10 a.m., but inclement weather delayed the start for three hours. The coaches agreed to let the singles play first, with doubles to follow only if the score remained tied.
Freshman Celia Durkin and junior Melissa Anderson gave the Crimson its only points of the match as they defeated their opponents 6-4, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-1. Bergman fell 6-4, 6-4 to Alabama’s number one, Robin Stephenson, and Mukundan also lost by 7-5, 6-2. Co-captain Susanna Lingman and junior Eva Wang were defeated after battling for three sets.
Wang bounced back after losing the first set 6-4 to take the second set, 6-2, but was unable to claim the third, losing 6-1. In the final match, Lingman took the first set from Alabama’s Ashley Bentley 6-2, but was unable to avert defeat for the Crimson, dropping the next two 7-5 and 6-2.
The Crimson was missing two of its regular starters, as sophomore Elsa O’Riain and senior Alexis Martire did not travel due to injury. O’Riain twisted her knee in the March 5 match against North Carolina while Martire experienced back pain.
SOUTH ALABAMA 4, HARVARD 3
The Crimson got off to a commanding 3-0 lead on Sunday against the Jaguars of South Alabama, but let the victory slip away after dropping 4 straight singles contests.
“We didn’t focus enough on the match,” Bergman said. “We didn’t give them the credit they deserve.”
In the midst of the second straight day of pouring rain, Harvard earned the doubles point on the strength of victories from the Crimson’s first and second doubles teams. Bergman and Lingman, the Crimson’s top-ranked pair, toppled their opponents 8-6, while Durkin and Anderson, the number two duo, shut out the Jaguars 8-0. In the third slot, Wang and Mukundan fell 8-2.
Durkin and Anderson prevailed again in singles, posting 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2, 7-5 wins. Lingman played in the No. 1 spot for Bergman, who sat out due to a knee injury. Lingman narrowly dropped the first set 7-6 to Jaguars’ number one Ana Rupic, before losing the second set 6-2.
South Alabama tied the score after defeating Mukundan and freshman Stephanie Schnitter, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-4, 6-2, respectively, leaving the outcome of the contest dependent upon Wang’s match at third singles. Although Wang put up a fight, winning a 7-6 tiebreaker after losing the first set 6-4, the Jaguars’ Maria Zivcicova claimed the third set, 6-1, to clinch the match.
One aspect of play that the team will emphasize for its upcoming matches is consistency, as well as adapting better to the style of play.
“We beat top teams when all of us are going at the same time, and pounding together,” Bergman said. “We need to play some better outdoor tennis.”
The Crimson will travel west during spring break to California, facing No. 43 Fresno State on March 28, No. 8 USC on March 30, and No. 35 Pepperdine on April 2. The team hopes to return to Cambridge with three more wins and the outdoor experience necessary to perform at its usual high standards against Ivy League competition.
“We’ll be going to warm weather and will be on spring break and focus completely on the competition and playing well as a team,” Mukundan said. “That will greatly help our mental outlook.”