In its first matches in the spring dual season, the Harvard women’s tennis team split the weekend at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The 67th-ranked Crimson (1-1) knocked off the 63rd-ranked Missouri (2-2), 4-0, on Saturday to move to the final.
In the championship game, Harvard faced No. 2 Florida (2-0) with a bid to the USTA/ITA Indoor National Championships on the line. The highly-touted Gator squad proved too much for the Crimson, sweeping Harvard, 4-0, on Sunday.
FLORIDA 4, HARVARD 0
After shutting out the Tigers the previous day, Harvard struggled Sunday, as it faced some of the top collegiate players in the country.
Florida quickly clinched the doubles point in the dual with wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions. Rookie standout duo Spencer Liang and Monica Lin suffered a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Kourtney Keegan and Sofie Oyen of Florida, while fellow Gator duo Brianna Morgan and Olivia Janowicz earned a 6-1 victory over the Crimson pairing of senior Hannah Morrill and freshman June Lee.
“I really don’t think our team was intimidated [playing Florida] at all,” Harvard coach Traci Green said. “We fought hard and showed we were capable of playing on their level. In many of the matches we were up at some point. I think it is just a matter of getting more practice and a little more confidence.”
Florida wasted no time taking the dual victory in the singles matches, winning in straight sets. Morrill faced No. 27 Oyne, and was unable to handle the Gator senior, falling, 6-0, 6-0. Sophomore Amanda Lin suffered a similar fate, losing, 6-0, 6-0, to No. 39 Keegan. The final Florida win came as junior Sylvia Li lost by a score of 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 6 singles position.
“The clinch-clinch format is tough because against a school like Florida, even though we lost 4-0, it doesn’t really reflect all of the matches,” Liang said.
With the dual clinched, the other singles matches were halted, including a battle between Liang and No. 17 Janowicz that was entering a third-set tiebreaker. Liang had taken the first set, 6-2, before Janowicz fought back to take the second, 6-4.
“I really liked our team this weekend,” Green said. “We showed a lot of grit, showed a lot of personality, and showed a lot of potential.”
HARVARD 4, MISSOURI 0
The Crimson started the weekend strong behind solid play from its doubles pairings. At the No. 3 doubles position, the tandem of Amy He and Amanda Lin blew past Tigers Kelli Hine and Tracy Dong by a score of 6-0.
At the No. 1 doubles, however, the Missouri duo of Cierra Gayten-Leach and Cassidy Spearman took down the Harvard pair of Monica Lin and Liang. Lin and Liang were ranked 34th in the nation coming into the weekend.
“First of all, Missouri was ranked ahead of us as a team, so I think it was a good team win for us,” Green said. “We didn’t know that much about them going in. We just knew it was going to be a battle.”
With the doubles matches split 1-1, the doubles point came down to a tiebreaker set at the No. 2 doubles in a match between the Crimson duo of Morrill and Lee and a Tigers pairing of senior Rachel Stuhlman and sophomore Madison Rhyner.
After Morrill and Lee jumped out to a 5-1 lead, Stuhlman and Rhyner rattled off five straight games to tie the match. However, the Tiger comeback was not to be, as Morrill and Lee won the tiebreaker, 7-5, to take the match and the doubles point for the Crimson.
“Lee played really well in her matches this weekend,” Green said. “She has been stepping up tremendously. Also, Monica Lin played an exceptional match against Missouri as well.”
On the singles side, Lee didn’t let her match get quite as close, earning a 6-2, 6-1 victory at the No. 3 position to start the afternoon for the Crimson. Monica Lin followed in her teammate’s footsteps at the No. 2 position with a 6-3, 6-2 win over the No. 83 ranked Hine. The clinching victory for the Crimson came from the No. 6 match as Amanda Lin beat Dong, 6-1, 6-1.
—Staff writer M. Ty Aderhold can be reached at email@example.com.
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