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The opponents that the Harvard women’s tennis team faced at last weekend’s ECAC Championships were familiar ones for the Crimson. Harvard was paired with Cornell and Brown in the two-day tournament held at the Murr Center. The Crimson split its matches, edging the Big Red on Saturday before falling to the Bears the next day.
“I was really happy with the way our team competed this weekend,” Harvard coach Traci Green said. “It’s always fun to get an early look at some of our Ivy opponents. Both matches were fought tooth and nail by everyone on our team. There were moments in the match where it could have gone either way and I was really proud of our team that we were so resilient even though we weren’t able to get the doubles point in either of the matches.”
The team (4-5) will travel to Brown (3-2) for an Ivy League clash on Apr. 7 before heading to Ithaca eight days later to take on Cornell (3-3). Sophomore Erica Oosterhout led the way for Harvard on the weekend, picking up wins at the No. 1 position on both days and pushing her singles win streak to four.
BROWN, 4, HARVARD, 1
For the second day in a row, the Crimson dropped the all-important doubles point as a victory by junior Annika Ringblom and sophomore Sabrina Xiong proved to be for naught after the upperclassman duo of Alyza Benotto and Dayna Lord won at the top spot for the Bears and Maddie Stearns and Mariska Chamdani followed suit at No. 2.
Following her doubles loss, Oosterhout got off to a slow start in singles, dropping the first set to Lord, 6-1. However, the Tampa, Fla. native would not let the senior get the best of her twice in one day. Oosterhout rolled to a 6-2 win in the second before picking up a gutsy 6-4 win in the decisive set.
The win was a big one for Oosterhout as the sophomore was able to best a player who has been a unanimous First Team All-Ivy pick during each of her first three seasons in Providence. Just a week earlier, Oosterhout defeated Boston College’s Asiya Dair, the No. 104 player in the nation.
“In general, I was really proud of the way Erica stepped up in the number one spot,” Green said. “She played against two tough Ivy opponents and she was able to show her resilience and come back after losing the first set. She’s been playing well and she’s been competing even better.”
Freshman Natasha Gonzalez was the only other Crimson player to take her match into a third set. After dropping the first set, 6-2, the Houston native roared back in the second to win six of the nine games but ultimately could not pull off the comeback over Brown sophomore Taylor Cosme and fell in the third, 6-1.
Freshman Irene Lu took her second set to a tiebreaker but lost to fellow first-year Devon Jack. Captain June Lee fell to Benotto at No.2, 6-3, 6-1.
“With Brown, we lost the doubles point but really fought back in singles and there was a point in the match where it was very close to being tied, we had all three-set matches [at one point],” Lee said. “It was a solid weekend, definitely more work to do with doubles.”
HARVARD, 4, CORNELL, 3
Harvard pushed its win streak to four on Saturday after coming out on top in another back-and-forth match. Six days after using a frantic singles comeback to beat Georgetown, the Crimson took four of the day’s six singles matches to oust Cornell.
Lee and Oosterhout fell 6-4 in the top doubles pairing while Xiong and Ringblom lost six of their eight games to Madison Stevens and Lizzie Stewart. Across the board, singles matches on Saturday were extremely competitive. The individual matches for Lee, Oosterhout, and Ringblom all went three sets.
Lee took the first set over senior Alexandra D’Ascenzo but fell 6-1, 6-2 in the second and third. Oosterhout dropped her first set to Marika Cusick but took the second to set up a decisive third. The match went to a tiebreaker but Oosterhout came out on top, 7-5. Ringblom got the better of Stewart in their second meeting of the morning, ousting the junior, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
Lu and Gonzalez both picked up straight set victories while fellow freshman Jenna Friedel fell to junior Priyanka Shah at No. 3.
“It was really good for our team, especially for the freshmen because it’s basically like playing Ivies but not during Ivies so it’s really good to see where we’re at compared to each school,” captain June Lee said.
—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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