The Harvard women’s tennis team spent its spring break on the West Coast, playing in a three-day exhibition singles tournament with Indiana in Las Vegas before taking on Long Beach State in Long Beach, Calif. on Saturday.
The No. 40 Crimson (6-5) fell to the No. 31 49ers (10-3, 4-1 Big West), 4-3, for its first loss since a defeat at Maryland exactly a month prior. The match marked the first game action for sophomore June Lee in nearly two months.
“We had June Lee back in our lineup, which was great,” Harvard coach Traci Green said. “June is the hardest worker on the team and she’s also our engine on the court. It’s always great to have her out there and leading the way for us.”
After Long Beach State took the doubles point, victory was hanging in the balance when freshman Ellen Jang-Milsten took on 49ers sophomore Julie Gerard in the sixth match of the tie. Although Jang-Milsten had clinched a match for the Crimson earlier in the season, Gerard proved to be too much for the first-year player.
In a back and forth fourth singles match, Gerard took the first set, 6-4. Jang-Milsten responded with a 6-4 victory of her own in the second set. In the pivotal set, Gerard was able to break Jang-Milsten’s serve to claim a 6-3 victory and give Long Beach State the win.
The 49ers were able to take two of their three matches with Ivy League teams this week. Long Beach State fell to Princeton, 6-1, on Wednesday before besting Dartmouth, 5-2, on Thursday.
Harvard was once again able to pick up victories from its top two singles players. Freshman Nikki Kallenberg, playing from the first singles spot, defeated 49ers sophomore Maeva Razakasoa.
Sophomore Monica Lin picked up a straight set victory over junior Ebba Unden. The duo has not lost since the team’s trip to Northern California in February. Kallenberg improved to 17-4 in her first season while Lin’s victory upped her record to 13-9.
“We really look to build off momentum from [this] match,” Green said. “Monica Lin really just showed a lot of poise and character out there and we’re looking for more great things from her.”
Junior Amy He won her match to give the Crimson three victories on the day. The Burlington, Ont. native ousted freshman Alex Jones in straight sets to take the sixth line match. The win was He’s second consecutive straight set victory.
Lee, playing in her first match since January after sustaining an injury, fell in straight sets to sophomore Hayley Thompson. Despite the loss, it was a step in the right direction for Lee, Harvard’s top singles player for the first four matches of the spring season.
“I was really excited to be playing again,” Lee said. “It’s cool being off the court because you actually get to see things you wouldn’t notice while you’re playing. But I’m glad I’m back and playing again.”
Freshman Annika Ringblom also fell in straight sets in the third collegiate match she has played in her home state, with Long Beach senior Karolina Rozenberg spoiling the homecoming for the freshman from Palos Verdes Estates.
In doubles action, Long Beach State was able to pick up the point after taking the first two matches. Unden and Thompson defeated Lin and Lee, 8-4, while Rozenberg and sophomore Laura Eales beat the freshman duo of Kallenberg and Ringblom, 8-6.
The Crimson fell to 0-3 on the season against teams from California and has not beaten a team from the Golden State since a 2011 victory against San Francisco.
“Playing nonconference matches is really nice,” Lee said. “It gives us the confidence for Ivies. It’s nice mixing the two because we know that Ivies is going to be really close because a lot of the Ivies are doing pretty well [in nonconference matches].”
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