The Harvard women’s tennis team played three nailbiting matches this past weekend at the Harvard Invitational. All three finished 4-3, and in a testament to the team’s clutch performance, all three ended as Crimson victories. It was just the way the team hoped to finish its fall season, as the team’s next match is not until January.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Boston University all sent their squads to Cambridge to face off in the round-robin tournament, but it was ultimately Harvard that brought home the tournament’s crown.
Harvard 4, Boston University 3
The Crimson freshman trio of Isabel Jasper, Erica Oosterhout, and Sabrina Xiong found themselves in pressure situations at the end of the day on Sunday, as Harvard and BU were knotted 2-2 after the other singles matches finished in straight sets. In just the fifth tournament of their young careers, Jasper and Oosterhout headed into third sets against seniors, while Xiong was fighting a 6-2, 5-4 deficit against Terriers junior Barbara Rodriguez.
As Oosterhout and Jasper took breaks before their third sets, it was Xiong who set the tone for the rest of the day when she came back to top Rodriguez, 7-5. After fighting through several long rallies and fending off more than a few close calls, Xiong let out a yell of satisfaction as she walked back to the bench.
Her teammates heard, and soon followed her lead.
While Oosterhout defeated BU’s Johanna Hyoty, 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-1, Jasper overcame another Terriers senior, Kim McCallum, 7-6 (0), 4-6, 6-3. Xiong ultimately lost her match to Rodriguez, but the Crimson still came away with the 4-3 victory overall.
“I’m really proud of how the freshmen stepped up the entire weekend,” Crimson coach Traci Green said. “It was important for them to get experience and see what it feels like to be in a team competition.”
Harvard 4, Syracuse 3
Unlike on Sunday, Harvard played from behind for most of the day against Syracuse after dropping the doubles point. Orange freshman Gabriela Knutson and junior Olivia Messineo combined to pick up the first win for their team, 8-6, and the duo of sophomore Nicole Mitchell and freshman Maria Tritou soon followed , topping the Harvard’s Jasper and Xiong, 8-5.
Once the singles matches began, however, the Crimson quickly picked up its play and grabbed two straight-sets victories. Junior Danielle Mirda overcame Messineo, 7-6 (2), 6-0, after a back-and-forth first set, while Harvard captain Amy He dispatched of Orange freshman Libi Mesh, 6-4, 6-1.
Syracuse kept pace, however, earning two straight-sets victories of their own. Down 3-2, Harvard was in the familiar position of having its back against the wall. Once again, the team delivered.
The comeback was punctuated by captain Amy He, who took the final two sets of her match against Orange freshman Maria Tritou, 7-5 and 6-4, after dropping the first, 2-6.
Harvard 4, Pittsburgh 3
Four of the six singles matches on Friday ended in straight sets, and as the two others entered a tiebreaking third set, the Crimson found itself trailing 3-2. The Crimson captain quickly knotted up the score with a 6-2 victory over Pitt freshman Gabriela Rezende, capping a 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-2 win, and all eyes at the Murr Center turned to the final match of the day.