Four seasons into Traci Green’s tenure as head coach of Harvard women’s tennis, she had turned the team around. In the 2008-2009 season, the team finished 2-17. Last year, Harvard finished second place in the Ivy League, meriting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
But the sharp upward rise of the Harvard women’s tennis team took a dip this year. Finishing 9-9 overall (4-3 Ivy) and without an NCAA berth, the squad feels as if it underachieved.
“It was a bit disappointing this season because we had...expectation[s] to make the NCAAs,” co-captain Samantha Rosekrans said. “That was our goal to start. So, it was disappointing in that sense.”
Starting with a No. 44 ITA ranking, the Crimson opened the season with a 5-2 win against cross-town rival Boston University.
But Harvard was handed losses by No. 20 Northwestern and No. 38 Boise State in its next matches during the ITA Division I Kickoff Weekend.
The Crimson turned around and bested Boston College, 5-2. But directly after, the team was upset by No. 71 Maryland, 6-1. Only junior co-captain Holly Cao, who was ranked 45th in singles in the nation at the time, won her match at the No. 1 spot.
Harvard regained some momentum for its next three matches at the ECAC Division I Indoor Team Championship in Princeton, N.J. There, the Crimson faced three Ancient Eight squads before the Ivy season began. Despite a string of recent struggles, Harvard opened the tournament strongly, beating Cornell, 6-1. But the team couldn’t hold onto its success, falling to No. 40 Yale and unranked Brown.
After splitting matches against No. 75 William & Mary and No. 63 Purdue, then-No. 51-ranked Harvard looked to get its season back on track as it traveled to Northern California for Spring Break.
Over the course of the week, the Crimson was scheduled to play No. 7 California, San Francisco, and No. 48 St. Mary’s, but inclement weather caused the games against the Golden Bears and the Gaels to be cancelled. Harvard made the best of what it was given, beating the Dons, 6-1.
Weather continued to frustrate the Crimson even after the trip, as its last scheduled game before the start of the Ivy League season was also cancelled, meaning the Crimson only played one match in the five weeks leading up to Ivy play.
The lack of matches did not seem to be a factor for Harvard, which began its quest for an Ivy League title by beating Cornell, Columbia, and Penn, respectively.
But its streak came to an end against No. 49 Princeton. The Crimson and the Tigers split the singles matches 3-3, but Princeton pulled out the win thanks to the doubles point.
“In the Princeton match, the critical thing was the doubles point,” said sophomore Kristin Norton, who is a co-captain for the 2011-2012 season. “So, after that we started working on doubles. We did more doubles drills during practice. We switched partners around. We worked on different strategies...And our doubles improved.”
Norton and her doubles partner, sophomore Hideko Tachibana, won their next match together against No. 36 Yale at the No. 1 spot, but Harvard’s No. 2 and No. 3 pairs lost, giving the Bulldogs the doubles point.
Unlike the match against the Tigers, the doubles point was not the deciding factor against Yale. The Bulldogs coasted to a victory over the Crimson, 6-1.