Pair of Captains Take First

Zain Khalid

Ever since joining forces at the beginning of the fall tournament season, Harvard women’s tennis co-captains Elsa O’Riain and Melissa Anderson have been nearly unbeatable.

The duo continued their dominance on Tuesday afternoon in West Point, NY, defeating the Maryland team of Ramona But and Maryanne Baker 8-5 in the finals of the Wilson/ITA Eastern Regional Championship, winning the tournament’s doubles title. The victory earned the Crimson pair a berth in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.

“We’ve never really done this well in regionals, especially in doubles,” Anderson said. “So we were really happy with the way we played.”

Harvard’s top duo was seeded first after winning the doubles title at the Cissie Leary Memorial Tournament in September and playing well at the Riviera/ITA All-Americans. The pair managed to live up to their high billing. The championship match was the anticipated contest between the first and second seeds, matching the Crimson against Maryland’s top combo of But and Baker. O’Riain and Anderson had each lost to the tough pair in separate matches last season, and they fell behind early in the final. The new Harvard tandem was able to battle back, however, tying the match at 5 apiece before winning the final three games.

“To beat them playing together—we’re such a new team—that really [gives us] a big confidence boost,” Anderson said.

After rolling over four straight opponents by a combined score of 32-9 to reach the tournament semifinals, O’Riain and Anderson opened play on Tuesday against 14 seed Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic of William and Mary, the pair that had knocked out the Harvard team of sophomore Stephanie Schnitter and senior Eva Wang on the road to the final four. The Crimson captains were able to avenge their teammates’ defeat, easily cutting down the William and Mary duo by a tally of 8-1 to move into the final.

O’Riain, a junior, and Anderson, a senior, will now play in the ITA Indoor Championships, to be held November 3-6 at the Racquet Club of Columbus, OH. The premier indoor collegiate tennis tournament is the second and final national championship event of the fall season, with a field comprised of 64 doubles teams and 88 singles players.

“It’s probably the hardest tournament to get into all year,” O’Riain said. “It suits us better. We’re so used to indoors, [we’ll] probably have a good chance to beat a couple big teams.”

The two captains have been playing outstanding tennis since being paired at the start of the season by head coach Gordon Graham, going 13-1 so far this fall. The lone loss came at the Riviera/ITA All-Americans to the country’s top ranked doubles team, Shadisha Robinson and Caroline Basu of Georgia.

“Our games complement each other,” Anderson said. “Elsa’s really aggressive up at the net, and I’m good at playing back…and we get along really well off the court.”

Other members of the Crimson also put up strong showings at the Eastern Regionals. Wang, Anderson and freshman Laura Peterzan each made it to the round of 16 in the singles draw. Schnitter, who was unseeded, won three matches over top players to make it to the Sweet 16 before falling. Peterzan and junior Preethi Mukundan also competed in the doubles draw, advancing to the semifinals.

—Staff writer Caleb W. Peiffer can be reached at