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In a week where the fall weather finally began to filter its way toward Cambridge, sun, sand, and sweat befell Harvard women’s tennis team. For the first time since Spencer Liang, Amanda Lin, Monica Lin, and June Lee competed in the doubles pre-qualifying round of the Riviera/ITA Women's All American Championship in 2013, two members of the squad qualified for the event in Palisades, Calif.
With junior Erica Oosterhout competing in pre-qualifying singles and sophomore Natasha Gonzalez partnering with Oosterhout in qualifying doubles, the Crimson was set for a full slate of matches. Entering the national tournament undefeated so far this fall with a collective record of 6-0 in singles and 3-0 in doubles, Oosterhout and Gonzalez looked to continue their winning ways.
Playing in the pre-qualifying singles event for the first time of her career, Oosterhout made quite an entrance. Riding her early-season streak, the Tampa, Fla. native began her campaign by besting sixth-ranked Anna Vrbenska of Ole Miss in three sets. After falling into an 0-1 hole to start the match, Oosterhout kicked it into high gear, ultimately pulling away to claim victory in decisive fashion—5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
The junior did not stop there, as she eventually navigated her the semifinal. It was at that stage of the event that North Carolina freshman Alexandra Sanford finally stopped Oosterhout’s progress. The routine 6-1, 6-3 loss to the Tar Heel rookie brought the junior back down to earth. She swept her previous opponent, Kansas senior Despoina Vogasari, in straight sets after her victory over Vrbenska en route to the semis.
In qualifying doubles, Oosterhout and Gonzalez competed their way to the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket. Facing off against the Florida Atlantic pair of sophomore Aliona Bolsova and freshman Natalia Boltinskaya in the opening round, Oosterhout and Gonzalez fell short. The 8-5 loss to the Owls sent the Harvard duo to the consolation bracket. Bolsova and Boltinskaya, however, eventually advanced to the penultimate round of the qualifying tournament, where they fell to Virginia’s Rosie Johanson and Meghan Kelly, 8-2.
After claiming victory by injury forfeit in their next match, Oosterhout and Gonzalez subsequently fell to senior Gabby Smith and junior Rianna Valdes of USC in a tiebreaker, 8-7. The loss ousted the Harvard squad from the tournament, concluding its time on the Gold Coast.
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