Though Harvard had already clinched the overall outcome, junior co-captain Holly Cao pulled out a three-set match against Boston College Saturday. The veteran, ranked No. 45 in the nation, had fallen at the No. 1 doubles spot to the Eagles’ pair of Alex Kelleher and Olga Khmylev.
With the outcome of the Crimson women’s tennis team’s match against BC hanging in the balance—Harvard narrowly ahead, 3-2—the day’s two remaining singles matches were forced to three sets.
The Crimson (2-2) had started slowly Saturday at the Murr Center, losing its doubles point for the fourth straight time in the nascent season.
But junior Samantha Gridley managed to garner the momentum she needed to lift her squad to a win.
Playing at No. 6, the junior rebounded from a tough first set to topple Eagle sophomore Ina Kauppila, 2-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Soon after, No. 45 junior co-captain Holly Cao added an insurance point with her 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over sophomore Alex Kelleher to finish off BC (2-2, 1-0 ACC) by a final score of 5-2.
“Our team performed really well,” Cao said. “We lost the doubles point, and that was a disappointment because we’ve been working on our doubles. [But] we did a really good job coming back after the doubles point. As a team we did really well in the singles matches. We were all really proud that we came away with the win.”
Harvard coach Traci Green was likewise pleased with the match’s result.
“BC is a very talented team,” Green said. “We weren’t taking them lightly. Every match we were focusing the best we could, and the match went our way.”
Indeed, the Eagles demonstrated their skill right from the start. At No. 1, Kelleher and sophomore Olga Khmylev made quick work of Cao and fellow co-captain Samantha Rosekrans, nabbing an 8-2 victory.
“Sam and I didn’t play our best in doubles,” Cao said. “We had a slow start.”
Sophomore Hideko Tachibana and freshman Natalie Blosser captured a sound 8-1 victory for the Crimson at No. 2, but the crew ultimately lost the doubles point, when sophomore Kristen Norton and freshman Hannah Morrill fell, 8-5, at court three.
But the discouraging start only inspired the Harvard crew to push harder in the singles matches.
“We mustered up all of our energy to pull through,” Green said.
Cao was undoubtedly a prime example of putting it all on the line. Even after her teammate Gridley had clinched the match, the Australia native endured deuce after deuce to eventually come away with a dominant third-set comeback.
“I thought she played pretty well,” Cao said of her singles opponent. “She played a smart match.”