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It wasn't very pretty, but the Harvard women's tennis team managed to defeat Virginia Commonwealth, 6-3, Saturday at the Palmer Dixon Indoor Tennis Center. The Crimson won two of the three doubles matches and four of the six singles matches.
Harvard (4-2) played the match with only half of its normal starting lineup, turning what would have been an easy victory into a contest that was in doubt for most of the afternoon.
"It was a really good win for us," freshman Gabriela Hricko said. "We came together and fought hard to win some really tough matches."
"The win was really a credit to everybody who pulled out tough matches," Harvard coach Gordon Graham said.
Harvard, which was coming off a disappointing loss against Boston College Wednesday, received three stellar freshman performances to clinch the win as Mylin Torres, Hricko and Julia Kim all won their respective matches.
Torres-playing second singles for the Crimson-outlasted her opponent 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Torres, who before the BC match had missed a week of practice due to illness, dazzled spectators with her quickness, running down balls in every corner of the court.
"In the first set I had a lot of energy," Torres said. "By the third set my legs were starting to cramp up a so I just tried to keep the ball in play."
At third singles, Hricko's booming serve and blistering ground-strokes proved too much for her opponent, and she took the match 7-5, 7-5.
"I played pretty well," Hricko said. "I had some concentration problems, but I got it together when I needed to."
Kim, who was still felling the effects of an earlier back injury, won her first set handily, 6-2, and held on for a 7-5 win in the second set.
Sophomore Maryla Madura tallied the sixth point for the Crimson with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 win at fourth singles.
Harvard earned two crucial team points by winning the first and second doubles matches.
At first doubles, the duo of sophomore Gina Majmudar and Torres ousted their opponents 6-3, 6-2.
Hricko and freshman Anna Chai teamed up at second doubles and won in a dramatic third-set tie-breaker, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6.
Those clutch performance enabled the Crimson to come out victorious on a day in which several key players were unable to compete.
The team's co-captains-juniors Kate Roiter and Kelly Granat-were missing from the line-up due to injury.
Roiter, who had tendinits of the wrist, hopes to be back for at least doubles play Friday against Oklahoma State at the Palmer Dixon courts. Granat, who is still recovering from a nagging shoulder injury, did see action against Virginia Commonwealth at third doubles.
Sophomore Rona Mayer, a transfer from Israel also sat out Saturday's match. Mayer, who had played professionally while in Israel, was obligated to sit out the first two spring semester matches due to eligibility rules.
She expected back for Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys are ranked 47th in the nation, two spots behind the 45th-ranked Crimson. If the Cowboys come to Cambridge with a healthy lineup, the Crimson would have to be considered the underdogs in Friday's match.
However, with its first and second singles starters-Majmudar and Torres-holding up the top of the line-up, Harvard's depth of talent should give it a fighting chance.
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