Senior Eva Wang helped earn the Crimson’s first point of the day in a 7-0 sweep of the Terriers by earning a victory in her doubles match, and then later also triumphed at the No. 1 singles with a 6-1, 6-0.
As grueling as finals period can be, it did not prevent the No. 18 Harvard women’s tennis team from prevailing over Boston University for the second consecutive year after coming off of the break. Led by a robust overall team effort, the Crimson defeated the Terriers 7-0 Saturday afternoon at the Murr Center to open its spring dual-match season.
“I thought we played reasonably well, coming off a tough time with reading period and finals,” Harvard Coach Gordon Graham said.
“It was one of our better first matches,” senior Eva Wang said. “It’s always good to start off with a strong first step.”
Harvard had little difficulty claiming the first point of the match in doubles competition, starting with an 8-1 win by Wang and sophomore Stephanie Schnitter at the No. 2 spot against BU’s Danielle Abraham and Cori Lefkowith.
Following them was the duo of junior Elsa O’Riain and senior Melissa Anderson, whose dominance on the court during the fall has earned them a No. 6 ranking in the nation. The No. 1 Crimson pair triumphed 8-3 over the Terriers’ Gina Sabatino and Monica Shepherd, and junior Preethi Mukundan and freshman Laura Peterzan rolled over BU’s Erin Katims and Yana Sadovskaya in the No. 3 position by a score of 8-2 to complete the sweep.
“Everybody just had a solid day, and we were a lot more solid than the other team,” O’Riain said.
Harvard allowed very few points across the board in singles play, with three out of six players shutting out their opponents in the second sets of their matches.
Both Wang and freshman Beier Ko triumphed 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 and No. 4 singles positions, respectively. Peterzan defeated Sadovskaya 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 3 spot and No. 6 Schnitter cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Shepherd.
Though Anderson at No. 5 and O’Riain at No. 2 singles played longer second sets than expected, they focused enough to hold off their opponents and avoid playing a decisive third set.
O’Riain emerged victorious against Katims with a score 6-3, 6-4, while Anderson, who came close to letting her 4-1 second-set lead over Lefkowith slip away, managed to come away with a 6-1, 6-4 win.
While pleased with the outcome of Saturday’s match, the Crimson is looking forward to facing more challenging opponents this weekend when the team travels to Madison, Wisconsin for the annual ITA National Team Indoors Championships.
“There are good teams left and right,” Graham said. “[The tournament] will be a really good indicator of where we are in relation to the rest of the top 20.”
“We’ll have to bring a better game [than against BU],” O’Riain said. “If we don’t play to our potential we’ll lose pretty easily.”
The team’s first match is Thursday against Georgia, which is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation. The last time the two teams met was at the same tournament in 2004, when the Bulldogs defeated the Crimson by a score of 6-1. This year, however, may prove to be different.
“Our dynamic this year has never been better,” Wang said. “We’ve been working really well together.”
“The whole team has worked very hard all fall,” Graham said. “We’re healthier than we were last year at this time and fitter, with fewer injuries.”
Harvard is part of a select group of 16 highly-ranked teams and is guaranteed at least three matches over the weekend. Based on the outcome of those contests, the Crimson may play a fourth match, which would give the team another chance to go head-to-head with a top squad.
While this tournament has become routine for Harvard in the past few years, the team still acknowledges its participation as a sign of its high performance.
“We’re surrounded by the top teams in the nation,” Wang said. “It’s definitely something to be proud of.”
—Staff writer Barbara R. Barreno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.