Women's Tennis Struggles Continue

Harvard drops two more Ivy contests to fall to 1-5 in league play

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Alina A Hooper

Sophomore Lena Litvak tries the slice, but couldn’t cut her way past Yale’s Janet Kim at the Beren Tennis Center on Friday. Kim beat Litvak, 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (4).

After a long winter, the Harvard women’s tennis team at least enjoyed the consolation of clear blue skies as it played outdoors this weekend in losses to Yale and Brown.

With No. 99 Beier Ko competing for Singapore in the international Fed Cup, a weakened Harvard team (3-16, 1-5 Ivy) lost, 5-2, to No. 67 Yale (10-8, 5-1 Ivy) at home on Friday and at Brown (9-11, 4-3 Ivy) yesterday, 4-3.

The Crimson returns to action at home Wednesday against Datmouth.

“I hate to lose to Yale, but I’m so proud of the team,” Graham said. “We started our season up at Dartmouth with a scrimmage, and now we get to end with some closure against the same team. It will be a great benchmark. The players we added midseason have improved so much, and now we’ll get to see that.”

BROWN 4, HARVARD 3

Playing on Brown’s Senior Day, the Crimson opened the match strongly, but ultimately fell, 4-3.

Freshman Lena Litvak and senior Julia Forgie tore through the Brown top doubles pairing of Michelle Pautler and Sara Mansur, 8-3, in just 59 minutes. The Forgie-Litvak pairing was thrown together in Ko’s absence and has run up a 4-0 record in Ivy play.

After junior Vilsa Curto, who is also a Crimson editor, and sophomore Rachel Gottlieb blew an early 4-3 lead in a 8-5 loss in the third doubles slot, senior captain Preethi Mukundan and freshman Lizzie Brook were left on the court for the decisive match. The two overcame a slow start to go up 7-4, but opponents Daisy Ames and Kathrin Sorokko rallied to tie the match at seven games apiece. With the Brown duo picking on her, Brook stepped her game and for the second match in a row, Mukundan and Brook won, 9-7.

Mukundan carried her strong doubles play into the singles, beating Ames, 6-0, 6-0.

“Preethi just mowed her opponent down,” coach Gordon Graham said. “She played dominating tennis like she can do at times, and the girl didn’t have a chance. Preethi actually felt really bad because it was the girl’s last college match, and Preethi just wiped her off the court.”

Brook, who has been plagued by ankle problems all season, twisted her ankle in her singles match and was forced to retire while trailing, 7-5, 1-0.

Curto and Gottlieb also lost in straight sets.

Having lost three singles matches, Harvard needed wins out of both Litvak and Forgie, and both players found themselves embroiled in the day’s toughest matches.

Litvak won the first set 4-6, but dropped the next two to give Brown the match.

With the overall match already decided and Forgie and her opponent Alexa Baggio tied at one set apiece, and more than two hours into their match, the two coaches agreed to end the match in a tiebreak if the game score was tied at any point in the third set. Forgie quickly fell behind 3-1 in games, and for a while it seemed the condition for the tiebreak would not be met. But Forgie rallied to 3-3, then won the tiebreak, 7-2.

“Julia played really calm, assertive tennis and rolled right through her,” Graham said. “This is the first time this season that she’s won both singles and doubles in a match.”

YALE 5, HARVARD 2

Playing outdoors at the Beren Tennis Center for the first time this season, Friday’s match against Yale began auspiciously for the Crimson, but a poor showing in singles gave the Bulldogs a 5-2 victory.

With Harvard winning at No. 1 doubles and falling at No. 3, the battle for the doubles point came down to the second spot, with Mukundan and Brook facing Yale’s Jessica Rhee and Sara Lederhandler. Mukundan and Brook overcame a 5-3 deficit in a 9-7 victory.

Despite winning the doubles point, the Crimson’s inexperienced lineup yet again failed to capitalize on the advantage in singles play.

“We won the doubles point again,” Graham said. “It’s unbelievable. We’ve played 19 matches, we have a 3-16 record, and we won the doubles point 11 times.”

Brook fell quickly to Alford, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 3 singles. Curto, Forgie, and Gottlieb all fell in straight sets to clinch the match in Yale’s favor.

With the match already decided, Mukundan and Brook battled on in the top two singles positions. Mukundan defeated Lederhandler, 6-3, 6-1, for the Crimson’s only singles win of the day. The singles win was Mukundan’s first since moving up to No. 2 singles in Ko’s absence.

Meanwhile, Litvak dropped a lengthy three-set struggle with Janet Kim in a super tiebreak, 10-4.

—Staff writer Tyler D. Sipprelle can be reached at sipprell@fas.harvard.edu.

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