Co-Captain Hideko Tachibana, shown above in earlier action, and her teammates fell to William & Mary despite winning the crucial doubles' point.
In its 5-2 loss to William and Mary (4-1) on Friday, the Harvard women’s tennis team (1-1) tried a variety of approaches in trying to claw out a couple of singles matches. However, after taking the doubles’ point, the team lost five of six singles matches as Crimson players varied their strategies in trying to battle back from early breaks off their serves.
On court five, junior Natalie Blosser blasted groundstrokes off each wing past her Tribe opponent but ceded break advantages in each set in a 6-3, 7-5 loss. Freshman Amanda Lin faced similar obstacles over on court three. Lin sliced the ball low and away to keep her opponent off-balance, venturing into the net to keep points shorter, but was unable to put enough pressure on her opponent with her serve and forehand and fell 6-3, 6-2.
Against a net-rusher who came in off both serves and returns, co-captain Kristin Norton consistently tried different passing combinations—working in both topspin lobs and flatter groundstrokes—but was broken at key junctures in each set. Norton lost the match, 6-4, 6-3.
“I thought it was a very solid second match of the season,” coach Traci Green said. “We competed really well for the second match of the season and I’m really proud of the heart that we showed today. Our team showed a lot of composure here today for early and the season and we won a lot of the big points we played in doubles.”
Harvard’s lone win in singles came courtesy of freshman Crystal Yen, who lost only three games in defeating William and Mary junior Sydney Smith, 6-0, 6-3. Yen, who uses an unorthodox style of play to keep her opponents off balance and force them to play balls outside of their comfort zones, frustrated her opponent into frequent errors off both wings.
“Crystal is a very deceiving player and a very annoying player to play,” Green said. “She’s very fast and can get everything back and sometimes she can give you no pace and sometimes she can give you a lot of pace. Crystal is a very hard worker and she never gives up. When you have someone like that, you know you’ve got a good player.”
In doubles, the Crimson started slow before finishing strong. After co-captain Kristin Norton and freshman Amy He dropped line one doubles, 8-0, Harvard fought back from 6-6 ties in both matches to break their Tribe opponents and served out the contests. Norton and He were the only team to stay intact from the team’s victory over Cleveland State, as the Crimson displayed two new doubles teams against William and Mary.
“In doubles I think that we all played pretty well,” sophomore Sylvia Li said. “Coach was in our ear telling us ‘believe, believe’ and I think we all did that pretty well. When you play with [a new partner], you definitely want to have high energy and make sure you talk all the time before and after points.”
Li said that after the match against Cleveland State, where Harvard dropped only one set and swept every match played, the level of competition was significantly stiffer against William and Mary. While the Crimson was not able to pull out more than one singles match, only two of the 10 sets the team lost were by more than a break of serve.
“Because our first match was a lot easier than this one it showed us that we still have to keep working hard and improving,” Li said. “They were a really solid team and if we keep practicing we can beat teams this good if not better. [The match] was a good watch to keep us on track.”
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at email@example.com.