Women's Tennis Drops Cross-Town Matchup Against BC

It was a showdown between cross-town rivals on Thursday night at the Murr Tennis Center, as the Harvard women’s tennis team (1-2) took on Boston College (4-2).

Though the Crimson jumped out to an early lead by taking the doubles competition, the Eagles dominated singles play in Thursday’s matchup. BC took five of the six singles matches against Harvard en route to a 5-2 victory.

The Crimson overcame some early stumbles in the doubles portion of the match. After dropping an early service game, the second court pairing of sophomore Hannah Morrill and freshmen Kelly Whelan fell to the Eagles, 8-6, which forced Harvard to win both the first and third court matches in order to earn the overall doubles point.

Crimson junior Camille Jania and senior Samantha Gridley fell to an early 2-7 deficit against their BC opponents. Jania, who was ill coming into the match, used strong play around the net to win six straight games and earn the victory, 8-7.

"The mindset was really to stay in the point and be aggressive," Gridley said. "You don’t focus on the score of the match. It was really having this diligence that gave us the points we needed to get the win"

Gridley and Jania’s match set the tone for the court one doubles match, putting pressure on the team of co-captains Kristin Norton and Hideko Tachibana to earn the overall doubles point for the Crimson. Coming into the match, the duo boasted an 8-3 record and was ranked 25th in the ITA.

The combination of Norton and Tachibana squared off against the 11th-ranked doubles pairing of Alex Kelleher and Olga Khmylev for the Eagles. BC started off strong by gaining a 4-2 advantage, but the Crimson duo was able claw its way back and overcome early execution errors to force a tiebreaker at eight games apiece. This late-game momentum and high energy allowed them to surge to a 7-3 victory in the tiebreaker and secure one overall point for the Crimson.

But Harvard could not capitalize on this momentum in singles play.

The Eagles’ Kelly Barry beat Crimson freshman Sylvia Li in a 6-2, 6-1 decision to tie the overall match score at one.

Norton was unable to follow up her strong doubles performance, and dropped the first set to BC senior Erina Kikuchi, 3-6. She fell, 0-6, in the second set to put the Crimson into a 2-1 hole.

At this point, Gridley was able to score a victory for Harvard in a heated contest against the Eagles’ hard-hitting Khmylev. Khmylev had frequent altercations with the officials during the match, while Gridley kept her composure to secure victory in the first set. Gridley pressed her advantage using intense play to finish the match as a 7-6, 6-3 victory for the Crimson, tying the overall score at 2.

The match was up for grabs at this point with three singles competitions still to be decided.

"We were trying to go for too much early," Gridley said. "We had to settle down and be more patient."

But things did not go Harvard’s way on the No. 1 singles court. Co-captain Tachibana dropped the first set to her opponent, Jessica Wacnik, in a very close contest, seven games to five. Tachibana showed signs of a comeback when she began the second set with three straight wins, but Wacnik was able to rally off four straight victories in response and win the match, 7-5, 7-6.

Natalie Blosser, who replaced the sick Jania for Harvard, faced off against Kelleher in a do-or-die match for the Crimson. Kelleher took the first set, 6-4, but Blosser was able to assert herself in the second set, winning by a score of 6-3. After three games on serve for each player, Kelleher took control and secured a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory and the overall win for the Eagles.

"I’m very proud of how our team fought today," Harvard coach Traci Green said. "But things just didn’t go our way. We learned a lot about our character. We just need to execute next time, so we know what we need to work on in practice going forward."

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