With the fall season coming to a close, freshman Neha Gupta had a chance to finish her rookie campaign undefeated at the Harvard Invitational this weekend. Playing in front of her home crowd in Cambridge, Mass., the freshman did just that.
The tournament took on a round-robin format, with six teams competing. Visiting schools included Boston University, Middle Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Wisconsin. The Crimson competed in both doubles and singles matches against the the Badgers on Friday, the Orange and the Terriers on Saturday, and the Panthers on Sunday, with the matches taking place in the Murr Center.
“Its pretty exciting to see how much we improved over the past few months,” said captain Annika Ringblom. “We got a big showing from every single member of the team. I’m really proud of the freshmen coming in, it’s always really tough in the first year to get a hold of tennis and school and everything, and they did an amazing job winning a very tough three matches.”
Younger members of the squad were some of the main contributors for Harvard over the course of the tournament, with Gupta and sophomore Irene Lu showing that they can compete, and win, against older opponents throughout the weekend.
Claiming three victories over her competitors from Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Boston University, Gupta completed the tournament unblemished. Accomplishing such a feat has been the norm for the Elk Grove, Calif. native in her rookie season for the Crimson, as she finished a perfect 11-0. According Ringblom, this achievement is an extremely rare occurrence for a freshman.
“Neha Gupta went undefeated for the whole fall season, which is pretty much unheard of,” Ringblom said. “As a freshman, that’s absolutely amazing.”
Harvard finished the third and final day of tournament play with mixed results. In singles, it won 4 of its 5 matches, with freshman Anna Li and Gupta continuing to show what they can do, winning by scores of 7-5, 6-3, and 7-5, 6-4, respectively.
In doubles play, the Crimson was not as dominant as the first two days, dropping two of its three matches against the Panthers. Sophomore Natasha Gonzalez and Li won their match by a score of 6-4, thereby closing out a successful weekend for Harvard
On Saturday, the Crimson continued to impress, winning all four of its singles matches against Syracuse, while winning one and losing one against the Terriers. Gonzalez battled to a 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 victory against senior Nicole Mitchell of Syracuse, while junior Erica Oosterhout defeated fellow junior Maria Tritou by a convincing margin of 6-3, 6-0.
In its doubles matches on Saturday, Harvard was less menacing, but it still finished 2-2 on the day. Freshmen duo Lia Kiam and Gupta fell 7-6 (5) to the Terriers duo of sophomore Clara Falxa and junior Sophia Kryloff, while Li and junior Isabel Jasper triumphed over Sabrina Faybyshev and Katya Martens of Boston University by a score of 6-2.
The Crimson got the weekend off to a strong start on Friday against University of Wisconsin with winning singles performances from Li, Gupta, and Lu. Li defeated senior Kelsey Grambeau by a score of 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-1, while Gupta won a close match against sophomore Michelle Linden which finished 7-5, 6-4, and Irene Lu cruised to victory against freshman Maryann Rompf, finishing 6-1, 6-2.
On the doubles side, Harvard continued to excel on Friday, winning four of its six matches on the day. Sophomore Lexi Milunovich paired up with junior Erica Oosterhout to win their bout by a score of 6-1, while sophomore Jenna Friedel and Gupta combined for a convincing 6-2 win over their Badgers opponents. Li and and Gonzalez battled to a tough 6-4 loss in their match.
“We feel really good about the weekend, it was a good opportunity for us to play some good teams here at home,” Friedel said. “We’re really grateful that we had so many fans come out to support us. We love playing at home because we’re comfortable here, and we can get our friends to come across the river to come watch us.”
The Harvard invitational was one of just three chances the Crimson tennis fans had to come out and watch their team during this fall season. Home matches will return on January 26th when Harvard host St. John’s University.
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