The Crimson entered the weekend on top of the Ivy League standings, but the loss to the Tigers hurts Harvard’s chances at the league crown.
“We know that we’re still in the race for the Ivy League championship,” Crimson coach Traci Green said. “Right now our focus is on winning every match...for the rest of the season.”
Harvard is now just a half game behind No. 60 Brown, No. 44 Yale, and Princeton, and likely must defeat all its remaining opponents, including challenging match-ups against the Bears and Bulldogs next weekend, to take the title.
HARVARD 4, PENN 3
The Crimson defeated the Quakers for the first time since 2006, when Harvard was ranked No. 15 and Penn was No. 41. This time, although both teams were unranked, there were still critical Ancient Eight records at stake, as the Crimson kept its hopes alive for an Ivy crown with a victory.
A day after Princeton snapped Harvard’s four-match win streak, its longest since winning eight straight in April 2006, the Crimson extended its doubles point win streak to six.
Captain Laura Peterzan and freshman Camille Jania at No. 3 quickly disposed of their Quaker opponents 8-2 and moved to 6-0 as partners, while at No. 1 senior Beier Ko and sophomore Agnes Sibilski won 8-3.
Sophomore Samantha Rosekrans and freshman Holly Cao, fought back from an early 3-0 deficit, but lost the set in a tiebreak, 8-7 (7-3).
Avenging her 6-2, 6-0 defeat in last year’s match against Penn’s Ekaterina Kominskaya, Ko won the No. 1 rematch Saturday with a pair of 6-2 sets to improve to 7-5 at that position.
Relying on her powerful backhand, Cao got back on the winning track at No. 5 with a 6-1, 6-2 win, despite feeling a little under the weather, according to Green.
“I’ve always had a strong backhand,” Cao said. “I prefer my backhand. It just comes naturally I guess.”
Sibilski clinched her ninth singles victory and the overall match for Harvard with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 4.
“[Sibilski] was a little bit fatigued [from] yesterday’s match, so I’m really proud of the way she found a way to keep it close and come out with the win,” Green said.
With the match decided, Peterzan fell at No. 2, 6-4, 6-2, while Rosekrans dropped her match 7-5, 6-4. Freshman Louise Laciny failed to take advantage of three Penn double faults in the super tiebreak, resulting in a 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-6 defeat.
PRINCETON 5, HARVARD 2
The Crimson began the afternoon with a sweep in the competitive doubles matches.
Down 6-5 at No. 2, Rosekrans and Cao converted their next two break opportunities to win 8-6, finishing the match with a lob to the back left corner over the gazing Tigers’ eyes.
Sibilski and Ko stepped up to the challenge of facing the No. 37 doubles pair in the nation, defeating the Princeton duo of Hilary Bartlett and Taylor Marable, 8-6, and clinching the doubles point for Harvard.
“That was a great win for them,” Green said. “It’s definitely going to give them confidence.”
At No. 3, Jania and Peterzan remained undefeated as partners, defeating the Tigers 8-4.
“Camille and Laura have been really clutch for us this season so far, and they’re really growing as a team,” Green said.
After two quick losses in singles by Jania and Sibilski, Peterzan succumbed 6-1 in her second set against No. 99 Bartlett after losing a first set tiebreak 7-3.
With Harvard down 3-1 in the contest, Cao fought to keep the Crimson’s chances for an undefeated Ivy season—and her own personal undefeated record—alive but failed after falling behind in the third set and finding herself unable to recover. Princeton took the No. 5 match 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and the overall contest with the point.
But on a positive note, Ko earned her sixth victory at No. 1 with her 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback victory.
Rosekrans stunned onlookers in the first set after mounting a comeback from a 4-0 deficit to win the set, 7-5, on an overhead put-away on a lob while approaching the net. But her momentum didn’t carry into the following sets and she dropped the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.