PROVIDENCE, R.I.--The women's tennis team had three injured players missing when it traveled to Rhode Island last weekend for the Ninth Annual Brown Invitational Tennis Tournament.
Despite losing two more during play, the Crimson had several quality individual performances that bode well for next weekend's ECAC Championships.
"I think this was a great tournament for us," Assistant Coach Jennifer Callen said. "We had some tough circumstances to deal with. We lost three senior starters from last year's team, and we had a bunch of injuries. The girls really played their hearts out this weekend, though, and I think that we're looking good for next week ECAC's. We've won it the last two years, and I know we have the talent to do it again. This weekend, we knocked off some of the top players."
The most glaring absence from the Harvard roster was 1998 Ivy League Player of the Year and team captain Ivy Wang. She was forced to sit with a possibly torn rotator cuff and will miss next weekend and maybe the entire fall season. The Crimson has an array of freshmen with the potential to offset the loss.
Freshman Fleur Broughton, who came to Harvard from Christchurch, New Zealand, started off the weekend well for the team, knocking off Dart-mouth's Allison Taff, the number-two seed in the B flight. Broughton squeaked through the first set in a tiebreaker, 7-3, then dropped the second 1-6. After some words of wisdom from Coach Gordon Graham, she smoked Taff 6-0 in the third.
"I really came together and refocused in the third set," Broughton said. "That's what I needed to do to beat a player of her caliber."
She also teamed with sophomore Sanaz Ghazal to win the second draw of the B-Flight doubles. They clinched the final with a well-executed 8-6 victory over Brown's Leela Raju and Heather Young. Ghazal's strong serving and Broughton's flawless volleying were too much for the Brown duo.
"We played great together," Ghazal said. "We were communicating well, motivating each other, pumping each other up. We stayed focused on aggressive play, getting to the net and making our first serves."
Another freshman, Andrea Magyera, was part of the other big win for the Crimson. In A-Flight doubles, she and junior Vedica Jain held on for a stunning 9-8 (7-3) triumph over Brown's Saranga Sangakkara and Julia Martynova. Sangakkarra is ranked 57th in the nation, and she was the number three seed in the A Flight for this tournament. Jain and Magyera fell behind 7-4 then took four games for an 8-7 lead. They dropped the next game and then pulled out the win in the tiebreaker.
"This was our first time playing together," Jain said. "And we were facing one of Brown's top teams. The first doubles match together is always tough, and I'm real impressed with how we did together. We were closing well, playing aggressively, and being tough at the net."
Injuries were a factor even for the Harvard players that were able to make the trip. Already without freshman Jennie Timoney and junior Sinead Walsh, who both had wrist injuries, Harvard lost Jain, who was forced to withdraw after her first doubles match with a hurt shoulder. Magyera was unable to play singles because of a recurrent quadriceps injury.
The silver lining in this cloud of injuries was the opportunities it gave to some fresh faces for the Harvard team.
Junior Shara Miller smashed Providence College's Katie Lafayette in the first round of the D-Flight singles, 6-1, 6-3. In the semifinals, she beat Dart-mouth's Carolyn Roth, 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-4. This brought her to the final where she faced off against Caroline Bashleben, also from Dartmouth. Even with Miller's impressive groundstrokes and tenacious, gritty play, she could not pull out a victory, losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Junior Kristen Flink, who is not usually in the starting rotation, played some of the most exciting tennis of the weekend. She made it through the D-Flight to the third-place match, where she lost a thrilling three-setter, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, to Roth. Flink impressed her teammates with her strong returns, great shot placement and mental toughness.
The Crimson travels to Princeton this weekend for the ECAC Championships, the premier event of the fall season. During this week of practice, it will have to finalize its lineup, which was put in flux by the slew of injuries. As defending ECAC champions, the women are still one of the favorites for this year's tournament, which will include many teams from the Brown Invitational, including Brown, Dartmouth, Virginia, and B.C.
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