Harvard Drops Tight Match to Syracuse, 4-3

When the Harvard women’s tennis team saw that Boston College, which had defeated the Crimson, 5-2, on Thursday, had lost to Syracuse, 4-3, the Crimson knew it needed to bring its A game to its dual match against the Orange on Sunday morning.

But at the Murr Center, Syracuse (5-3) proved to be too much for Harvard (1-3) and won, 4-3, by taking four of singles matches after dropping the initial doubles point to start the day.

All three doubles matchups went into tiebreakers, while five other sets in singles play also went into extra games.

“We know that Syracuse is one of the fittest teams in the region, so we were ready for that,” junior co-captain Kristin Norton said. “We knew it was going to be a big fight. We knew it was going to be tight. We were pretty positive going into the match, and everyone fought really hard. We just couldn’t pull it out.”

The Crimson started strong, winning two-out-of-three doubles matches to take the early lead.

Norton and her doubles partner, junior co-captain Hideko Tachibana, ranked No. 25 together, defeated their opponent, 9-7, at the No. 1 spot, while sophomore Hannah Morrill and freshman Kelly Whelan handled their foe, 8-6, on the adjacent court.

“We were expecting great volleys and for [Syracuse] to be really aggressive and come to the net all the time,” Norton said. “We’ve just been practicing doubles so much, and so far we’ve been kind of on a roll with doubles. So even though they were tough, we had the shots to back it up.”

The Crimson’s only pair who lost, senior Samantha Gridley and junior Camille Jania, brought its match to a tiebreaker at the No. 3 position before falling, 9-7.

With the doubles matches over, Harvard went into singles play ahead, 1-0.

On the No. 1 court, Syracuse’s Emily Harman soundly defeated Tachibana, 6-2, 6-1.

Sophomore Natalie Blosser dropped her contest, 6-2, 6-4, at the No. 4 spot, but Crimson victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots put Harvard up, 3-2, overall.

Jania kept her foe to a clean slate at the No. 3 court, earning a commanding 6-0, 6-0 win, while to her left, Norton also beat her opponent in two sets with a score of 6-2, 6-3.

“After losing to the girl from BC [last week], I was kind of upset, and I wanted to win even more [Sunday],” Norton said. “The girl I played [Sunday] was good. She was really aggressive, but I was able to stay consistent and control my aggression, as opposed to my past matches where I just went too much for myself.”

With the winner of the match still very much in the air, all eyes turned toward courts five and six.

Both Gridley, at the No. 5 position, and Morrill, playing at No. 6, endured gritty three-set matches.

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