Women's Tennis Blanks NJIT
After a nearly two-week break from competitive play, the Harvard women’s tennis team heads into spring break with a victory.
On Friday afternoon at the Murr Center, gutsy singles play and dominating doubles helped the Crimson (5-3) blank the New Jersey Institute of Technology (8-4), 7-0, in a match that had just been added to the schedule during the previous week.
“It wasn’t actually scheduled, this match,” co-captain Kristin Norton said. “We had two matches cancelled two weeks ago for ‘Nemo,’ so they just scheduled this one right before spring break just to get a head start on our tennis training. We’re just really excited for the matches to come, and we’re trying to get ready for Ivy season.”
But that the match was rescheduled to right before the break had little effect on the team, which will ride a three-game winning streak into its trip to Florida, where the Crimson will face tougher competition, including a top-20 Stetson team.
“This was another building match for us,” head coach Traci Green said. “We just had midterms, and we’re about to go into spring break, so I think it’s one of those matches where we knew we could win, we knew NJIT was going to fight, but I liked the way we came out strong and stuck to our guns.”
In line one doubles play, Norton and co-captain Hideko Tachibana handled their opponents deftly, using aggressive moves to the net to sprint out to an 8-0 victory after just a half hour of play.
“Hideko and I have been playing a lot of doubles since freshman year, but this year we haven’t really played together in the fall, so it’s really great to get to play together again,” Norton said. “We just have a lot of chemistry, and we know where each other’s going to be on the court without saying anything, so that was great.”
The other two doubles matches were much more hotly contested as the Highlanders’ pairs fought for the doubles point. Sophomore Sylvia Li and freshman Amanda Lin won their first game on court three but dropped the next two to their NJIT foes. Serving for the win at 6-5, Lin committed a double fault, but the rookie redeemed herself with a return winner two games later to defeat Natalia Melibeu and Carolina Zagotta, 8-6, and give Harvard its first point on the day.
Freshman Amanda He and junior Amanda Morrill faced similarly tough competition on the second court. After the Highlanders broke He and Morrill in the first game, the two came back, winning a break of their own. The pairs remained on serve throughout the match, before Li and Lin won the match to complete doubles play.
“We’re a little bit rusty in doubles,” Green said. “We haven’t played for a couple of weeks, so that was expected, but we turned things around in singles and got off to pretty good starts in all of the matches.”
On court five, Li lost the only set of the day in her singles match against NJIT’s Jana Luste. Li swept her first set, using a strong serve to pull out a quick 6-0 win. But Luste came back with a vengeance, and lengthy volleys fell to her favor as the visitor picked up the second set, 6-2.
Li bounced back after the setback, employing deep groundstrokes to alternating corners to tire her opponent. After nearly two hours of play, the sophomore downed Luste in a 6-1 victory in the third set to give her team its sixth point on the day.
“Sylvia was fighting the whole way, and it was nice to see her pull through there at the end in the third set,” Green said.
In line one play, Tachibana attacked her opponent’s weaker serve, dropping only one game in a 6-1 set to open the contest. The match became heated in the second set, with a line dispute leading to a re-played point before Tachibana’s pulled out the set victory, 7-5.
Lin and Norton both made quick work of their foes, losing only one and two games, respectively. At line four, He also found victory, taking advantage of her opponent’s propensity to come up to the net at inopportune times to win, 6-3, 6-3.
Despite playing only two sets, freshman Hai-Li Kong and her Highlanders foe, Melibeu, found themselves to be the last ones playing on the court. After Kong picked up the first set in a 6-2 victory, long, fatiguing rallies led to errors on both sides. Eventually, Kong prevailed, rallying past Melibeu, 7-2, to give the Crimson the final point.
I think everyone had great days,” said Norton of the team’s final match of an eight-game homestand. “I think some girls were disappointed in the way they played, but they were still able to find a way to win, so that’s what counts.”
—Staff writer Samantha Lin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @linsamnity.