Veteran Leads Harvard Squad at Tourney

Jennifer S Shi

Crimson co-captain Hideko Tachibana, shown here in earlier action, advanced to the quarterfinals at the USA/ITA Division I Women’s Northeast Regional Championships, the team’s best finish at the competition.

The Harvard women’s tennis team squared off against the top players drawn from 45 collegiate programs in the Army-hosted USA/ITA Division I Women’s Northeast Regional Championships. The five-day tournament concluded Tuesday.

Co-captain Hideko Tachibana, the tournament’s fifteenth seed, headlined the Crimson’s efforts at West Point, winning three matches before falling to sixth-seeded Kanika Vaidya of Columbia, 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinals. Tachibana, Harvard’s 2011-12 MVP, is now 4-2 in singles matches this year.

“[Tachibana] is just a really exciting player to watch. She’s fast and also amazing when she’s playing well,” Crimson coach Traci Green said. “She had a very solid tournament.”

After receiving a bye in the first round of the main draw, Tachibana defeated Boston College’s Julia Cassellbury, 6-4, 6-1, on Saturday. The Harvard senior followed that up with Sunday wins over Stony Brook’s Polina Movchan, 7-5, 7-5, and Dartmouth’s Akiko Okuda, 6-2, 6-3, to advance to Monday’s round of eight against Vaidya.

“I felt like I was just on that day [Sunday],” Tachibana said. “Everything just kind of fell into place, and I executed what I’d been practicing.”

Freshmen Amanda Lin, Hai-Li Kong, Crystal Yen, sophomore Sylvia Li, and junior Natalie Blosser also represented the Crimson in singles competition.

Lin advanced to the round of 32, defeating Alexandra Livingston of St. Peters, 6-0, 6-0, and Alex Kelleher of Boston College, 6-4, 6-3, before losing to Brown’s Misia Krasowski, 6-3, 6-2.

Tachibana was impressed with Lin’s performance.

“I think that [making it to the round of 32] was a good breakthrough for [Lin]. She had a really competitive match with [Krasowski],” Tachibana said.

Kong fell in the round of 64 to Dartmouth’s Katherine Yau, 6-2, 6-4. In the previous round, Kong won the first set, 6-0, before Rutgers’ Stef Balasa retired due to injury.

Yen won two matches to qualify for the main draw, defeating UConn’s Srna Stoslyjevic, 6-1, 6-2, and Stony Brook’s Becky Shtilkind, 6-3, 6-4, before losing to Gina Li of Rutgers, 6-2, 6-0, in the round of 128.

Sylvia Li was also eliminated in the round of 128, losing to Long Island’s Sanne Louwers, 6-2, 6-4, and Blosser failed to advance past the qualifying rounds, beating Delaware’s Carmen Lai, 7-5, 6-2, before losing to Drexel’s Marcela Rosales, 6-4, 7-6.

The coach and team veterans feel that Harvard’s freshmen have been adjusting well to the collegiate game.

“I’m proud of our freshmen,” Green said. “It was their first taste of Regionals, and hopefully they’re going to grow from this.”

In addition to the six singles entrants, the Crimson fielded three entries in the doubles bracket.