With the match between the Harvard women’s tennis team and Dartmouth tied at three points each, all eyes were on the third singles match. After losing the first set 7-6, freshman June Lee was locked in a tight battle with Dartmouth freshman Jacqueline Crawford to decide the match.
Lee raced out to a 4-1 lead and managed to take the second set, 6-4, to tie up the match, but fell victim to cramps and ultimately could not take down her Dartmouth counterpart.
After Lee went up, 4-1, for the second time in the third set, Crawford broke Lee to make the match 4-2, and then won 15 of the next 16 points on her way to a 6-4 victory to give Dartmouth the win on Senior Day.
“She gets a lot of balls back and so do I, so all our points were very long, and our whole match was very long as well,” Lee said. “[The overall match] was 3-3 and I was the last match on. I really wanted us to win and end on a good note, so I just kept fighting, and ended up pulling out the second set. Unfortunately, then I started cramping and [Crawford] just doesn’t give up. She found her way back in that set and ended up winning, but it was a really good match overall.”
Harvard started the match off on a high note, with wins at second and third doubles giving the Crimson the doubles point and an early 1-0 lead in the match. Freshman Spencer Liang and Lee won in the second spot with an easy 8-5 victory, while senior Hannah Morrill and sophomore Monica Lin clinched the point with an 8-6 victory over Dartmouth’s Katherine Tan and Taylor Ng on the first court.
“We started pretty strong with doubles,” Lee said. “I think we were really motivated to start off well, and also we’ve all been working pretty hard on doubles, so we all felt pretty confident. In the singles, like usual, everyone fought super hard, but the Dartmouth girls didn’t give up either. They fought hard, and it was a tough match.”
However, once the singles matches started, the Crimson simply could not match up to Dartmouth. The Big Green won four of six singles matches in dramatically close fashion to upset 53rd-ranked Harvard and finish with a 4-3 conference record, good for fourth in the Ivy League. After a loss to Yale last weekend, the Crimson finished with a 3-4 record, landing just behind Dartmouth at fifth in the Ivy standings.
Harvard’s only two singles’ wins came early in the contest, as sophomore Amanda Lin swept Dartmouth’s Julienne Kong at sixth singles right off the bat to put Harvard up, 2-0. After Katherine Yau rallied for Dartmouth at the top position to defeat Liang, 6-1, 6-3, freshman Amy He put Harvard within one win of taking the match at fourth singles.
He downed Dartmouth’s lone senior, Melissa Matsuoka, in a 6-0, 6-3 victory to give the Crimson a 3-1 lead with just three matches to go.
Monica Lin was bested by Dartmouth freshman Taylor Ng in her sixth Ivy League win at second singles, 6-4, 6-2, while Morrill could not come back against Akiko Okuda after losing the first set, 6-3, and lost the match after dropping the second set, 7-5.
With the match tied up, everything fell to the third singles match, where Crawford was on her way to the deciding victory.
Despite the loss in their final match of the season, blue-chip freshmen like Liang and Lee foreshadow a bright future for a young Crimson squad that only graduates one senior, Morrill, from the starting lineup.
“The whole team knows that hard work pays off,” Lee said. “We’ve seen that throughout the season, like when we beat Clemson and Houston and all our other wins, so I think overall it was a good season. There were definitely some ups and downs, but I think that comes with the territory. We definitely learned from our downs and we bounced back and were pretty resilient, so I’m excited for next semester.”
—Staff writer Glynis K. Healey can be reached at email@example.com.