To begin its fall campaign, the Harvard women’s tennis team traveled to Williamsburg, Va. to participate in the 18th Annual William and Mary Women’s Tennis Invitational this weekend. Despite just beginning its practices last Tuesday, the squad hoped to see how it fared against other quality teams from along the East Coast.
“I thought this weekend was a solid first tournament,” Crimson coach Traci Green said. “It was a good way to get our feet wet and shake off the cobwebs…but there is a lot of room for improvement…In order to be a top team, we need to work on our doubles positioning and shot selection for singles.”
Flight A saw the Crimson’s top two stars in action against other top opponents.
No. 56 Holly Cao, the third seed in the flight, defeated Virginia’s Erin Vierra, 6-4, 6-0, Marshall’s Dominika Zaprazna, 6-2, 6-0, and No. 45 Lindsey Hardenbergh representing the Cavaliers, 6-0, 6-2.
“I think I played some good tennis, especially in the later matches,” Cao said. “I guess I tried to dominate the points, and it worked out well for me.”
Harvard’s junior co-captain finally met a 6-3, 6-2 defeat in yesterday’s flight A championship against Ivy League rookie Connie Hsu, a blue-chip left-handed recruit joining Penn this year.
“[Hsu] played very well in the final and had the upper hand,” Cao said. “We had a lot of close deuces…She’s a very high quality player. She’ll really add depth in the Ivy League. I’ll probably play her again in the Ivy season.”
No. 114 Hideko Tachibana—coming off her unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year and All-Ivy first-team selections—began her sophomore year with a loss to Hsu, 6-3, 6-4, before upsetting No. 97 Kateryna Yergina, from Virginia Commonwealth, 6-4, 6-4. Tachibana went on to win 7-5, 6-3 over Winthrop’s Eliszaveta Zaytseva.
Flight B showcased sophomore Kristin Norton as the No. 3 seed as well as freshman and five-star recruit Natalie Blosser.
Norton faced some trouble to start her season, losing to William & Mary’s Marivick Mamlit, 6-2, 6-2 and the Thundering Herd’s Kristina Kopricina, 6-4, 6-3. Norton finally found victory in her final match against Virginia’s Rashmi Teltumbde.
Blosser, who played for National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington, D.C. last year, began her career with a tough match against the flight’s second seed, Hana Toljanovic from Virginia, 6-2, 6-3. Blosser also lost to Richmond’s Sydney Grant, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 10-4, before defeating fourth seed Shannon Betts of Virginia Tech, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 10-6.
“[Blosser] will add some depth to our roster this year,” Green said. “Natalie has a lot of promise and has energy. She needs to work on channeling that energy to the right place at the right time. She has a lot of power, and she’s fun to watch out there. She’s very tenacious.”
Co-captain Samantha Rosekrans represented Harvard in flight C as the second seed. She opened the tournament with a win over the Spiders’ Kelly Tidwell, 7-5, 6-3, and Old Dominion’s Arina Alilueva 6-3, 3-0, at which point Alilueva retired. The second-year captain finally lost to the Rams’ Olga Terteac, 6-3, 7-5, but came from behind to defeat the Cavaliers’ Caryssa Peretz, the fourth seed, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9.
Sophomore Alex Lehman opened her matches in flight D with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 loss to Virginia Commonwealth’s Odaria Yakauleva. After her initial troubles, Lehman went on to win against Columbia’s Chelsea Davis, the third seed, 6-0, 6-3, and Marshall’s top-seeded Maria Voscekova, 6-3, 6-4.
Freshman Amanda Black was the second seed in flight E and began her collegiate career with a loss to Richmond’s Ripley Hartmeyer, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday. The following day, the recruit from Cambridge, England lost to Columbia’s Katerina Kovacevic, 3-6, 7-5, 10-6. In flight A of doubles, Harvard’s top duo of Cao and Rosekrans, ranked No. 40 in the nation and the third seed in the flight, opened the season with a win against the Hokies’ Yasmin Hamza and Tea Ivanovich, 8-5. In their final match, the tandem defeated the Thundering Herd’s Michaela Kissel and Kopricina.
“We could have done better in doubles,” Cao said despite the wins. “With more practice, I’m sure the team will get a lot better.”
Also in flight A, Norton and Tachibana teamed up to take on Voscekova and Zapranza but lost 8-6. The duo came back to win against the Monarchs’ Joanna Dobrowolska and Diana Ivanova, 9-8 (4), but lost its final match to the Tribe’s Anik Cepada and Jeltje Loomans, 8-5.
In the doubles flight B, Black and Lehman teamed up to defeat Kovacevic and teammate Natasha Makarova, 8-5, but lost to fourth seed Betts and Isel Martinez-Marcos, 8-6. In their next match, Black and Lehman lost to Grant and Joanna Matuszczyk, 8-5.
—Staff writer Eric L. Michel can be reached at email@example.com.