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The Harvard women’s tennis team (0-2, 0-1 Ivy League) is still waiting on its first victory of the season after a nail-biting loss against cross-town rival Boston College (1-1, 0-1 ACC). Playing at home, the Crimson took the Eagles to a seventh match after facing an early deficit.
After last weeks’ defeat to Cornell, Harvard once again fell 4-3, with the contest again being decided in the final match.
The Crimson found itself in a hole early on, as Boston College dominated doubles with strong performances all around. Of the three matches the Eagles claimed victory in two by a score of 6-3 which deemed the third match redundant. That match ended unfinished and knotted at 4-4.
“I think in doubles it could have gone either way,” junior June Lee said. “But they were more aggressive at the net.”
With the loss in the doubles competition, Harvard was down 1-0 in terms of points. The six single bouts, each counting for a point, would determine the outcome of the match.
Lee went up against the Eagles’ Lexi Borr in what was a dominant performance. She dispatched Borr in straight sets (6-4, 6-3), and leveled the score at 1 apiece.
The two squads traded blows for the next four matches.
In the fifth singles game and with BC up 3-2, Harvard captain Amy He was fighting to keep the Crimson in the tie. Though the contest was on the line, she shrugged it off and took control, winning comfortably in straight sets against BC’s Jennifer Ren 6-4, 6-2, to force game 7.
In the last set it came down to freshman Sabrina Xiong, in a winner takes all matchup. For any player this would represent a daunting task, but for a freshman that extra degree of pressure could set in.
Her earlier doubles match went unfinished and she would need that energy in what turned out to be a long and difficult contest.
On the other side of the court, standing in the way of a Xiong and a Harvard victory was the accomplished freshman Jacqueline Urbiniti, who as a senior in high school, was a five-star recruit.
The match got off to a fantastic start, with both players going back and forth, battling their way to a first set tie break.
However, Urbiniti would keep her calm and win the tie break, claiming the first set.
Though fresh from a grueling first set defeat, Xiong came out strong in the second, claiming breakpoint after breakpoint. Her strong forehand and pinpoint serve gave her the advantage on her serve, and her returns aided her in winning the set at 6-2.
“Sabrina did an amazing job of fighting and I think she handled the pressure of that really well,” Lee said. “I think it's a great learning experience for everyone, especially the freshman.”
The third set went much like the first. Urbiniti did a much better job at protecting her serve and Xiong did not show any signs of losing her serve until late. Urbiniti finally broke through, and went on to claim the third set 7-5 and the victory for the Eagles.
The players iterate that much work is still to be done after this tough start.
“I think we definitely need to work on execution and just making that one extra shot under pressure which makes a difference in a match,” Lee said.
“We are not taking this loss lightly,” sophomore Annika Ringblom said, “and we will back working hard tomorrow to show what we are really made of at ECACs next weekend.”
–Staff writer Max McEvoy can be reached at email@example.com.
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