Freshman Lena Litvak stretched for the ball and helped deliver the women’s tennis team it’s sole point of the weekend, a doubles point against Princeton.
After falling to Penn and Princeton this weekend, the Harvard women’s tennis team has lost three Ivy League matches for the first time in the storied history of the program.
Playing in the Murr Center, the Crimson (3-14, 1-3 Ivy) was swept by the No. 51 Quakers (14-4, 4-0 Ivy) Friday and lost 6-1 to the Tigers (11-7, 3-2 Ivy).
The absence of top player and sophomore Beier Ko handicapped Harvard. Ko is currently in New Zealand, preparing to represent Singapore in the Fed Cup.
PRINCETON 6, HARVARD 1
In Ko’s absence, the Crimson was forced to tweak its standard doubles lineup. Freshman Lena Litvak, usually partnered with Ko, played with senior Julia Forgie in the top spot. Senior captain Preethi Mukundan and freshman Lizzie Brook played in their customary second doubles spot. Harvard forfeited the third doubles match.
Despite the changes, the Crimson surprised by winning the doubles point fairly easily.
In the top doubles spot, Princeton’s Blakely Ashley and Ivana King forced the less experienced Forgie to prove herself, hitting the majority of balls to Forgie’s side of the court. Forgie proved herself up to the task, and Harvard took the match, 8-5.
Mukundan and Brook won convincingly at No. 2, 8-4.
“Princeton was a tough match, obviously,” Mukundan said. “We had some close matches and some tough matches. I thought the match started out great with our doubles point win. Winning the doubles point definitely sent the message to the other team that we were out here to fight.”
However, the day’s singles matches went less auspiciously for the Crimson. Harvard forfeited the sixth singles spot, meaning the team needed to win three of the remaining five matches for victory.
Ashley quickly swept Forgie 6-0, 6-0. The Tiger’s Darcy Robertson followed that up with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Brook. Sarah Huah clinched the victory for Princeton with a 6-2, 6-1 win over junior Vilsa Curto.
With the match already lost, Litvak and Mukundan battled for individual victories in the top two spots. Both lost the first set, 7-5, but rallied. Litvak won the second set in a tiebreak before falling 10-7 in the deciding super tiebreak. Mukundan won the second set, 6-3, but fell in the super tiebreak as well by a score of 13-11.
PENN 7, HARVARD 0
Penn, coming in undefeated in the Ivy League, had little trouble with the depleted Harvard lineup.
Litvak and Forgie won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles to give the Crimson its only win of the day. The Quakers’ Lenka Snajrova and Ekaterina Kominskaya easily defeated Brook and Mukundan, 8-1, in the top spot. While Curto—who is also a Crimson photography editor—and sophomore Rachel Gottlieb lost, 8-3, in the third doubles match, the match originally looked to be up for grabs with the score tied 3-3 and the Harvard duo playing well.
“There was a moment there where I looked at the Penn coach, and he just rolled his eyes,” coach Gordon Graham said.
“In some of the Penn matches in the past, Penn has been the favorite on paper, and we’ve come charging back to beat them,” he added. “This time they were just too good.”
In addition to her doubles victory, Forgie provided the solitary bright spot for Harvard in singles as well. Forgie was the only Crimson player to win a set in singles in a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 loss to Penn’s Charlotte Tansill.
Brook played only a single game in singles before defaulting due to sickness. Gottlieb and Curto fell by the identical score of 6-2, 6-1.
In the top slot, Litvak played a competitive match against the No. 112 Kominskaya, eventually losing, 7-5, 6-3. Mukundan played the day’s longest match in a 6-2, 7-5 defeat to Yulia Rivelis.
—Staff writer Tyler D. Sipprelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.