After playing a combined nine matches this weekend, sophomore Lauren Peterzan and senior Preethi Mukundan were in exactly the position any athlete wants to be in: the position to win.
Tied 8-8 in the finals of the USTA National Invitation in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the pair fought off 12 match points before teammates on the Harvard women’s tennis team finally conceded the championship to Alejandra Guerra and Daria Petrovic from North Carolina State.
The Crimson could have folded during the third set when the Wolfpack seemed to step up their game. Instead, Harvard continued to battle. Long rallies and tough exchanges characterized the rest of the match, with neither team taking a clear advantage.
The closeness of the match made for a very entertaining conclusion to the weekend.
“It was so exciting [that] we fought off so many match points,” Harvard coach Gordon Graham said. “The intensity level over the last half an hour was pretty amazing. It was one of the more exciting matches I have seen in a very long time.”
Despite the disappointing loss in the finals yesterday morning, players believed the tournament was a success overall. While winning is always nice, the fall season is traditionally used as a tune-up before the more significant spring season.
“We got in a lot of match play,” Mukundan said. “People are starting to get into their games a lot. [This weekend] pumped us up about our playing. It helps us take a step forward in terms of getting ready for the spring.”
Gordon echoed that sentiment, saying “We are excited about what we see and what this team can turn into by spring time. We have a lot of great talent, so we will see.”
Also traveling with Mukundan and Peterzan to the tournament were junior Stephanie Schnitter and freshmen Lina Latvik.
All four of the women certainly accomplished the coach’s goal of getting in as many matches as possible; each of them played in singles and doubles matches on both Saturday and Sunday, accounting for more than 20 matches between the four of them.
Although the best showing of the weekend was by Peterzan and Mukunda in the doubles,
Harvard saw impressive results in the singles as well as Peterzan and Latvik both advanced to the quarterfinals of their respective flights. Just a few weeks ago, Latvik became the first Ivy leaguer to win both the singles and the doubles of the Cissie Leary Tournament.
Coming away from a tournament without a championship may have been new territory for her, but Gordon admitted that the competition this weekend was “significantly more difficult, with a lot more good players.”
With enough weekends like this, the team will be ready to win even when the competition is “more difficult.”