Ivy Title Within Reach After Weekend Victories

KISS FROM A ROSE'
Meredith H. Keffer

Sophomore Samantha Rosekrans earned her tenth dual win this season, tying her personal mark set during her frehsman campaign with her 6-4, 7-5 victory in Friday’s competition against Brown.

Entering the weekend a half game behind the Ivy League leaders No. 58 Brown (19-4, 5-2 Ivy) and No. 46 Princeton (18-7, 6-1), the Harvard women’s tennis team knew it had to sweep its two matches against the Bears and No. 44 Yale (14-6, 5-2 Ivy) to keep its hopes alive for the Ivy crown.

After staying in contention on Friday with a 4-3 win over Brown, the Crimson (12-8, 5-1) continued its strong performance yesterday by defeating the Bulldogs for first time since 2006, by a margin of 5-2.

“We knew Brown and Yale were going to be tough,” Harvard coach Traci Green said. “We lost to them last year. Our mindset was get the doubles point and fight for every singles point.”

Now the Crimson controls its own destiny. If the squad defeats Dartmouth on Wednesday, it will share the Ivy title with Princeton.

HARVARD 5, YALE 2

Yale entered yesterday’s match at the Murr Center as the favorite and with a chance to clinch at least a share of the league title. The Bulldogs had won five consecutive Ancient Eight matches and had outscored opponents 26-2 in their last four matches.

But the Crimson was determined to snap Yale’s streak. Harvard maintained its recent strength in doubles, winning its eighth-consecutive doubles point. The Crimson swept the three doubles matches for the fifth time in that span.

Sophomore Agnes Sibilski and senior Beier Ko disposed of their Bulldog opponents, 8-3, to earn their twelfth win of the season and extend their partnership’s win steak to five.

At No. 3, freshman Camille Jania and captain Laura Peterzan moved to 8-0 on the season by clinching the doubles point for the Crimson with an 8-5 win.

To complete the sweep, sophomore Samantha Rosekrans hit an overhead smash up the middle on match point to take the set, 8-5, with her partner, freshman Holly Cao.

To keep its chances for an Ivy title alive, Harvard had to take at least three of the six singles matches, but history was not on its side—the Crimson had gone 0-12 in singles in the last two meetings between the two teams. But history changed yesterday.

After Rosekrans lost 6-3, 6-2, Cao gave Harvard a 2-1 lead at No. 5 with a crosscourt backhand into the corner to take the match 6-1, 6-3.

No. 88 Ko extended the lead at No. 1, avenging last year’s three-set defeat against the 2008 Ivy Player of the Year, No. 101 Janet Kim, beating Kim 6-3, 6-2 this season.

“Going into this match I was very determined to beat her,” Ko said. “I was very pumped…and gave it all I had. It definitely paid off.”

All was looking good for the Crimson until freshman Samantha Gridley lost her match after taking the first set. Then Sibilski, with a 5-2 lead in the second set, seemed to let victory slip out of her fingertips, losing the set 7-5.

But fortunately for Harvard, Sibilski stormed back in the third set to win the match 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Knowing that the victory gives the Crimson a chance to determine its own destiny in its season finale, Sibilski’s onlooking teammates rushed onto the court to congratulate her.

“It was very exciting,” Sibilski said. “I’m really proud of our team.”

To add to the victory, Peterzan defeated No. 85 Jessica Rhee in a super tiebreak, 7-6 (1), 5-7, (10-7).

HARVARD 4, BROWN 3

On Friday, the Ko and Sibilski partnership defeated No. 67 pair Bianca Aboubakare and Cassandra Herzberg to earn its second win of the week over a ranked opponent. With the 8-6 victory, Ko and Sibilski delivered only the second loss of the season to the Brown duo.

Cao and Rosenkrans moved to 5-3 on the season with an 8-3 win, while at No. 3 Jania and Peterzan remained undefeated with an easy 8-1 set. Despite having the doubles point under its belt, the Crimson had its hopes of a title on the verge of collapse when Harvard dropped four opening sets in the six singles matches.

But the momentum of the match shifted in the Crimson’s direction when Cao moved to 6-1 on the season with her 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 5.

The momentum stayed in with Harvard as Ko pulled ahead in the second set after dropping the first, 6-1. She went on to win the second set, 6-4, as well as the decisive third set, 6-2.

“I was a little frustrated [with the first set]…so I changed my tactic,” Ko said. “I was like ‘Let me do something different. Let me come to the net, let me be more aggressive, but consistent at the same time.’”

Rosekrans earned her tenth dual win this season, tying her personal mark set last season, with a 6-4, 7-5 victory in a hard-fought match.

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