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In its opening match of the season, the Harvard women's tennis team fell to Wake Forest, 7-2, Saturday at the Palmer Dixon courts.
Blessed with one of the most talented lineups in collegiate women's tennis, the Crimson attributed its first game shortfall to needing time to gel.
"[Wake Forest] came in with some pretty tough players. We gave them a good match. The level of play was where we want it to be," senior Christina Dragomirescu said. "From the unity point of view, we're all there, eager and ready to play and win. For a first match, we were very ready."
When Amy Met Jamie
The first doubles pair of Amy DeLone and Jamie Henikoff opened the match, annihilating Demon Deacons Beatrice Guery and Karin Dallwitz, 6-1, 6-0
DeLone, ranked in the top 10 in the East's singles rankings, used her cannon serve to pound her opponents into submission. And when Guery and Dallwitz managed to return serve, Henikoff's aggressive net approaches eliminated their challengers' remaining hopes.
"When my serve is working, my game falls in place," DeLone said. "Jamie's volleys were working well. Her aggressiveness at the net really helped us today."
But Co-Captain Nicole Rival and Erika Elmuts had a rougher go of it at third doubles. After losing 7-5 in the first set to Diane McKeon and Tracy Zawacki, the Demon Deacon duo capitalized on the Crimson pair's poor communication and unforced errors to coast in the second stanza by 6- 1.
Second doubles action developed into a barnburner. Demon Deacons Celice Tournant and Lisa Pamintuan jumped to a 6-4 first set advantage, taking advantage of sloppy net play and numerous untimely double faults.
But Dragomirescu and Jennifer Minkus bounced back, pouncing on Tournant and Pamintuan en route to a 7-5 second set edge to knot the match at one set apiece.
The miscues ultimately prevailed. After battling back from six match points to tie the third set at 5-5, double faults ended the Crimson's chances. Tournant and Pamintuan prevailed, 7-5. "There are still some details left--serves to be worked out, double faults under pressure," Dragomirescu said. "We know we're almost there."
In Over Your Head
Trailing 2-1 in the match, Rival tried to even things up against McKeon in fifth singles.
But the Demon Deacon frosh had other plans, tallying a 6-1, 6-1 decision over Rival.
Wake Forest never looked back. Although Pamintuan defaulted in third singles to Henikoff because of an ankle injury, Pamintuan's team-mates picked up the slack.
First, Guery edged Dragomirescu in two close sets to pad the visitor's lead to 4-2.
Then, Dallwitz downed the double-fault plagued Minkus, 6-3, 6-2 to seal the Wake Forest win.
Freshman Melinda Wang's strong performance in sixth singles against highly rated Tracy Zawacki provided one of the few bright spots in the match.
No Diesel Power
After losing the first set and falling behind in the second set, 3-0, Wang shifted into turbo. She wasted the fazed Zawacki by winning six of the following seven games to win the set 6-4 and tie the match at a set apiece.
But then a strange thing happened. Zawacki elevated her play to go a notch above Wang's play and win the rubber set, 6-4.
Wake Forest's Tournant defeated DeLone in three sets in second singles to provide the final margin of victory.
Tough Road Ahead
The team travels to sunny California Thursday for a wave of five matches against some of the nation's top squads.
The Crimson opens up against talented 24th ranked U.S. International University and also will play ninth rated Pepperdine.
"This team is a lot like the men's team last year," Dragomirescu said. "There are a lot of freshmen who have put in work and will continue to put in work. With such hard workers, success will come."
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