Following a weekend off, the Harvard women’s tennis team traveled to New Haven for the three-day Bulldog Invite in the team’s first trip to Yale since last fall’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Regional Championships. Ivy League foes Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Yale, as well as Boston College, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers made up the weekend’s field. The Crimson finished its weekend with a 15-9 overall record.
Harvard faced off against Rutgers on Friday, a combination of Columbia and Yale on Saturday, and Pittsburgh on Sunday, with the matching being the first chances for the Crimson’s freshmen to compete against other schools. The weekend tournament was the first in which junior June Lee has competed in as a singles player following injuries from the spring that she has been rehabbing this fall.
Unlike traditional fall tournaments in which each player plays in singles and doubles tournaments regardless of their collegiate affiliation, the Bulldog Invitational was team-based, with each of the squads squaring off in seven singles and three doubles matchups each day.
“We were excited to break away from campus and travel down to Yale,” coach Traci Green said. “It was a fun team event where we were able to tally our individual sports to create a team score, and we did pretty well. It was good to see our squad produce as a team.”
On the tournament’s final day, Harvard fell in both singles and doubles action to the Panthers. The freshman duo of Sabrina Xiong and Erica Oosterhout picked up the team’s lone doubles victory.
Crimson singles players went 3-3 against Pitt. Oosterhout and sophomore Nikki Kallenberg picked up the two Harvard wins. The victory on Sunday capped an undefeated weekend in singles action for Kallenberg. Captain Amy He fell in a three-set match to Pitt sophomore Callie Frey.
On Saturday, the Crimson bested a team made up of Lions and Bulldogs players, 5-1 in singles action and 2-1 in doubles play.
Kallenberg led the charge in the singles department. The sophomore bested Yale’s Tina Jiang to pick up her second singles win of the weekend. After losing the first set, Harvard sophomore Annika Ringblom stormed back to claim victory over Bulldogs captain Ree Ree Li. Lee claimed a hard-fought three set victory to finish the weekend 2-0 in singles.
“June’s starting to come alive and show some signs of her old self,” Green said. “It’s still pretty early so she’s just taking it one day at a time right now. It was very fun to have her out there competing for the team. She’s really fun to watch because she leaves it out there on the line.”
Freshman Danielle Mirda and He also picked up singles victories for Harvard. In doubles action, Ringblom and Oosterhout picked up an 8-6 victory while Mirda and He clinched the doubles point in an 8-7 win over Columbia’s Sarah Hu and Lindsey Mendelson.
“It’s really good to see where [future opponents] are and where we are,” Lee said. “It’s good to know that we can beat Columbia and Yale, and it’s good to get a sense of how their players play. We’ll keep that in mind when we do play them during the season.”
On Friday, in which some of the day’s matches were cut short due to rain, the Crimson took on a Scarlet Knights team that finished tied for last in the Big Ten last spring. Despite losing two of the three doubles matches, Harvard dominated in singles play, picking up victories in six of the seven contests. Ringblom and Kallenberg each picked up singles victories from the top two spots.
Oosterhout won in straight sets over Rutgers’ Ksenija Tihomirova while Lee ousted Mariam Zein. Mirda and He coasted to straight set wins from the sixth and seventh singles positions. The underclassman duo of Kallenberg and Sabrina Xiong was the only Harvard doubles team to win on Friday. The pair posted an 8-3 victory over Gina Li and Zein.
“As a team, everyone performed pretty well,” Lee said. “Everyone fought really hard. I think one thing we can do better is improve our starts, especially in doubles. Everyone seems fit and no one was struggling in their third set.”
—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.