Courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity
STANFORD, Calif. -- A year ago, the Yale women's tennis team won a match in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. On Friday afternoon at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium, the No. 29 Bulldogs repeated that feat -- and did so in decisive fashion.
After claiming the doubles point with a pair of wins, three straight-set singles wins finished off the 4-0 Yale victory over No. 42 Saint Mary's (Calif.). The Bulldogs will now face No. 5 Stanford Saturday at 6 p.m. for a shot at the Sweet 16.
Last year's NCAA first-round win over William & Mary was by a 4-2 score, and while the final score this time around was 4-0 there were still some anxious moments for Yale (20-3) early on. The Gaels nabbed 16 games against the Bulldogs in doubles, the most any team has won against Yale's potent doubles lineup in more than a month. However, Yale won when it counted to claim the doubles point for the 22nd time in 23 matches.
At No. 2 doubles, juniors Elizabeth Epstein and Annie Sullivan got up two breaks within the first three sets. After that each team held serve, which eventually led to Sullivan putting away the match-winning point with a hard backhand just inside the line for the 8-4 win. Epstein and Sullivan are now 21-1.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs and Gaels were locked in tightly contested battles at No. 1 and No. 3. At No. 3, neither team could hold serve until senior captain Steph Kent did so in the fourth game so that she and sophomore Blair Seideman went up 3-1.
After going up a break early at No. 1 doubles, senior Vicky Brook and freshman Amber Li extended their lead to 5-1 with a break in the sixth game, but the Gaels' Jade Frampton and Jenny Jullien broke right back and eventually strung together a 5-1 run to take a 7-6 lead.
However, with the No. 1 match now in jeopardy, Kent and Seideman came through to put the doubles point away. Up 7-5, they got to double match point but were temporarily denied. Finally, a double fault by Saint Mary's finished off the 8-5 win. Brook and Li's match was stopped with them trailing 30-15, and the teams turned their attention to singles. Kent and Seideman are now 20-1 as a doubles team.
Singles wound up being a straightforward affair, as five of the six Bulldogs took their first matches -- Epstein 6-3 at No. 1, Seideman 6-2 at No. 2, freshman Hanna Yu 6-4 at No. 3, Kent 6-3 at No. 5 and Sullivan 6-0 at No. 6. As the matches moved into their second sets it became clear the Epstein, Sullivan and Yu were all in line to deliver the clinching wins. Sullivan was first off the court with a dominant 6-0, 6-0 win over Carla Lindlar. Four minutes later, Yu finished off Anna Chkhikvishvili 6-4, 6-0.
Epstein was up 5-2 in the second set at that point, and was up 40-15 looking for a match-clinching break. No. 113 Catherine Isip rallied to get to deuce, but then hit one long. Epstein then made a nice return on a tough serve, and that eventually led to the match-clincher as Isip hit one wide. The Bulldogs gathered around Epstein to celebrate Yale's first NCAA tournament shutout.
Epstein improves to 17-6 in singles with the win, while Sullivan is 18-5 and has won six in a row. Yu is 16-5 and has won five straight.
Saint Mary's, which was making its third straight NCAA appearance, finishes the season 14-8.
No. 29 Yale 4, No. 42 Saint Mary's 0
1) No. 72 Brook/Li (YALE) vs. Frampton/Jullien (SMC) abandoned
2) Epstein/Sullivan (YALE) d. Chkhikvishvili/Isip (SMC) 8-4
3) Kent/Seideman (YALE) d. Aloia/Searl (SMC) 8-5
Order of Finish: 2, 3
1) Elizabeth Epstein (YALE) d. No. 113 Catherine Isip (SMC) 6-3, 6-2
2) Blair Seideman (YALE) vs. No. 86 Jenny Jullien (SMC) abandoned
3) Hanna Yu (YALE) d. Anna Chkhikvishvili (SMC) 6-4, 6-0
4) Vicky Brook (YALE) vs. Jade Frampton (SMC) abandoned
5) Steph Kent (YALE) vs. Catherine Leduc (SMC) abandoned
6) Annie Sullivan (YALE) d. Carla Lindlar (SMC) 6-0, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 3, 1