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After stumbling to a double loss to Ancient Eight competitors Columbia and Cornell last weekend in its opening Ivy League weekend, the Crimson came into the match needing a boost in fortunes.
After recovering from a loss on Saturday to Penn (7-5, 2-2 Ivy League), the No. 63 Harvard women’s tennis team (11-9, 1-3) came back with a thrilling win against No. 61 Princeton, 4-3.
“We beat Princeton, who are reigning Ivy champions the past two years, earlier this season, so it was great validation to beat them once again today,” sophomore Annika Ringblom said. “It is very exciting for the whole team, especially the freshmen, to get this first Ivy win. Coming out of this win from Princeton, we have the confidence to win our remaining Ivy matches.”
Harvard 4, Princeton 3
Harvard had a short travel time from Penn to Princeton but was determined to change its fortunes. No. 61 ranked Princeton sits just two positions below the Crimson in national rankings, however, coming into the match the two teams had had vastly different outcomes in the Ivy League. Princeton was ranked 1st alongside Columbia with a 3-1 record, while Harvard was rock bottom, with a zero in the win column.
Harvard looked to put an end to its troublesome run. The Crimson came out strong in the doubles matchup, with Ringblom completing several tough shots in the final two games alongside freshman partner Sabrina Xiong to clinch the doubles point after the junior-freshman pair June Lee, and Erica Oosterhout won.
Similar to the match against Penn, Harvard traded bullets with Princeton, but this time had the distinct advantage of the doubles point.
With the match score poised at 3-3, sophomore Nikki Kallenberg was looking uphill. She was down a set, and down 4-2 in the second set tiebreak, points away from a 0-4 Harvard start to the season. But the freshman dug in, winning the tiebreak and then the 3rd and final set, claiming a Harvard victory in the No. 2 position.
Harvard 3, Penn 4
The contest started with the competition for the double’s point, a best of three double’s matchups in which the winning side would go up 1-0 overall before the six singles matches.
The Crimson dropped the double’s point after the Lee-Oosterhaut duo lost against Penn’s No. 2, while Kallenburg and freshman Isabel Jasper fell 6-3 to Penn’s No. 3 pair.
Singles play presented a mixed bag for both teams, both going 3-3. Penn did not mind trading points because of its distinct advantage from the doubles.
For the Crimson, the typically strong bottom half of the ladder went 1-2. The No. 5 position Xiong lost in a three setter 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, while Ringblom lost 6-3 in both sets. No. 6 ranked senior Amy He won her match in straight sets 6-3, 6-0.
With the double’s loss and the falter at the bottom of the ladder, it was up to Harvard’s best to overcome a resolute Penn. The Crimson was two-thirds of the way there after Kallenberg and Oosterhout won in straight sets. However, No. 1 position Lee was beaten 6-4, 6-2, the Quakers handing the Crimson its third loss in three matches.
“The difference between Saturday and Sunday were literally just one or two points,” Lee said. “Saturday, Sabrina lost 5-7 in the third set when the match was tied 3-3 but that just shows how one or two points makes the difference between winning and losing, and the Ivy League level of tennis as risen a lot. It just shows how there is not one team that is extremely dominant or extremely weak, and it basically is who is better on that given day.”
—Staff writer Max McEvoy can be reached at email@example.com
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