The Crimson opened the fall season Friday at the Georgia Tech Fall Invitational, playing matches Friday, Saturday, and yesterday against Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Florida State.
While Harvard finished last season unranked, its three opponents finished No. 1, No. 4, and No. 19, respectively.
Captain Stephanie Schnitter stressed how much of a learning experience this tournament was for an inexperienced team.
“We have a lot of girls returning to the team who didn’t play last semester and a lot of new freshmen,” she said. “The new coaches have a lot of enthusiasm. It’s a completely new dynamic.”
The quality of the players present at the tournament quickly became apparent as the Crimson was swept by the Bulldogs in doubles Friday morning.
Schnitter, who returned to the team this fall after not playing last spring, teamed with freshman Agnes Sibilski in an 8-4 loss to Kelley Hyndman and Naoko Ueshima of Georgia.
An all-freshman paring of Eunice Lee and Samantha Rosekrans went down, 8-3, while sophomore Elizabeth Brook and junior Catriona Stewart lost, 8-2.
The afternoon matches against the Yellow Jackets proved equally challenging for the Crimson.
Stewart lost a three-setter 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, while junior Vilsa Curto, Rosekrans, Lee, Schnitter, and Sibilski all lost in straight sets.
Harvard mixed up its doubles pairings for Saturday, and Schnitter and Rosekrans responded with an 8-3 win over Lauren Macfarlane and Jessica Wente of the Seminoles.
Sibilski and Stewart fell 8-2, while the duo Brook and Lee lost by an identical score.
Saturday turned out to be another tough afternoon of singles for the Crimson, as Sibiliski, Schnitter, Rosekrans, Stwart, Brook, and Lee all fell to the Bulldogs—although Schnitter went the distance in a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 loss.
“She went up early in the third set, and it was a little bit tough to dig myself out of the hole. I should have made some easy volleys, and I had some missed volleys,” Schnitter said. “But she’s ranked pretty highly, and I feel like I was definitely in the match, so it gives me hope.”
While yesterday’s doubles match against Georgia Tech and singles match against the Seminoles saw Harvard go winless on the day, Schnitter said she was impressed with the team’s effort.
“[Yesterday was] the day that we had the most close matches,” she said. “Unfortunately, nobody won, but two of the freshmen had highly competitive matches against ranked opponents.”
The weekend’s tournament certainly provided experience against top opponents for a team hoping to rebound this spring from last year’s 4-16 record.
“I thought everyone competed really well,” said Curto, who is also a Crimson photography editor. “It was really good for everyone just to get the experience and for the freshmen to get over the initial nervousness of playing college tennis.”
Harvard returns to action in two weeks at the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
—Staff writer Tyler D. Sipprelle can be reached at email@example.com.