Harvard Cruises to Victory Over Tulsa

Meghan T. Purdy

Senior Melissa Anderson breezed to a 6-1, 6-1 victory, part of a strong Crimson effort across the board against Tulsa.

The No. 9 Harvard women’s tennis team dominated the opposition in both doubles and singles play Sunday in a 6-1 victory over Tulsa at the Murr Center.

The win is first since the team returned to the top ten in the national rankings. It is also the third in a row for the Crimson, which now holds an overall record of 8-3.

“[Tulsa] was an okay team, but we were sure we were going to win,” junior Elsa O’Riain said. “It was nice to get an easy match after playing tough teams for so long.”

For the third consecutive match, Harvard won the doubles point, a catalyst for strong singles play.

Junior Preethi Mukundan and freshman Laura Peterzan got the Crimson rolling in doubles on the third court when they beat Tulsa’s Tiffany Smith and Julie Westfall by a score of 8-3.

Following Mukundan and Peterzan were Harvard’s No. 2 pair of sophomore Stephanie Schnitter and senior Eva Wang, who clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 win over Santie Delport and Thalia Diaz-Barriga.

Senior Melissa Anderson and junior Elsa O’Riain, ranked third among the nation’s doubles teams, defeated Daniela Muscolino and Kinsay Grimes 8-5 to complete the sweep.

“It’s definitely a positive sign [sweeping in doubles], especially for [Schnitter] and I,” Wang said. “It’s good to finally have a win under our belt.”

After defeating opponents by 4-3 margins in several matches over the past few weeks, the Crimson was able to create more distance on the scoreboard against the Golden Hurricane as it brought home singles wins in five out of six matches.

Anderson, in No. 4 position, was the first to add to the Harvard’s total when she took care of Grimes in a quick 6-1, 6-1 victory. Peterzan at No. 3 defeated Diaz-Barriga by a 6-3, 6-1 score, and Schnitter both clinched the match and increased her overall win total to ten matches when she beat Santoro, 6-1, 6-4, in the No. 6 spot.

Wang, at the No. 1 court, triumphed in her first-set tiebreaker and had little trouble taking the second set as she defeated Muscolino 7-6 (3), 6-4. Mukundan, in the No. 5 spot, lost the first set in a tiebreaker, but she forced and won a decisive third set, finishing 6-7 (4), 6-4, 1-0 (9).

O’Riain kept the first set close against Delport, but could not recover in the second set and fell by a 7-5, 6-2 margin.

“I kind of got a bit distracted when I realized [during the match] that we had won anyway,” O’Riain said.

At this point of the season, the Crimson is 6-0 at home and 2-3 on the road. After playing three matches in three weeks at the Murr Center, Harvard will head to Williamsburg, Virginia to face No. 26 Texas Christian University (7-3) on March 18 and No. 20 William and Mary (9-4) on March 19.

“It’s about time that we traveled,” Wang said. “We’ve been home for the past three weekends, [and] I definitely think that we’re fresh this time.”

The Crimson edged TCU, 4-3, at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 3 but has not had a head-to-head match against William and Mary in recent years.

“TCU is going to be really tough, and William and Mary is pretty evenly matched with us,” O’Riain said. “It should be interesting to see how that works out.”

—Staff writer Barbara R. Barreno can be reached at