Tennis teams open fall seasons at individual tournaments
By Henry Arndt
Published on Monday, September 24, 2012
The Dartmouth men’s and women’s tennis teams both took to the court for the first time in the 2012-2013 season over the weekend. The men competed in the National Tennis Center College Invitational in New York City at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the same venue that hosts the U.S. Open, while the women played in the Cissie Leary Invitational at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Dartmouth women saw strong performances from several of the teams freshmen, while the men struggled on the tournament’s first day before turning things around over the weekend.
“Individual tournaments are a great way to get the guys a lot of matches, to see what we need to work on and to get match experience for the January team matches,” men’s head coach Christopher Drake said.
The Dartmouth women finished the 2012 spring season with a record of 8-13. They will look to improve on that record this year with a relatively young squad.
“Tennis is in season fall, winter and spring, but fall is the only time when we play individual tournament matches,” captain Sarah Leonard ’13 said. “We use the fall to build group cohesion, work on our game and prepare for the match seasons. We can really learn how to support each other and be there when we aren’t all playing at the same time.”
The women had a strong start to their fall campaign in Philadelphia, highlighted by inspired performances from the freshman class.
“We had a really strong showing from the ’15s and the ’16s against Ivy League and non-Ivy League players,” Leonard said.
Katherine Yau ’16 delivered a huge performance in her freshman debut. Yau easily dispatched her first-round opponent, Temple University’s Alicia Dom, 6-1, 6-3. Yau then proceeded to upset Sol Eskenazi, Penn’s No. 1 player and the 2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, in a closely contested 7-5, 5-7, 14-12 win. Continuing her high level of play, Yau defeated her round-of-16 opponent, Cornell University’s Christine Ordway, 6-3, 6-3, before falling in the quarterfinals to Yale University’s Hanna Yu, who has been ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation for doubles.
Sarah Bessen ’16 also enjoyed great success with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 performance against Drexel University’s Nicole Pivonka before prevailing in a tight 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 super-tiebreaker win over Sarah Guzick, a consistent member of Yale’s top six. Bessen dispatched Temple’s Rebecca Breland, 6-1, 6-3, before suffering defeat to Lauren Frazier of Cornell, 6-1, 7-5.
Julienne Keong Si Ying ’16 advanced to the third round without any real test due to a first-round bye and a simple 6-4, 6-2 second-round win. Keong went on to defeat Olivia Heim from the University of Delaware, 6-4, 6-2, before losing a tight match to Cornell’s Laila Judeh, 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.
“From this weekend, we take away really exciting and positive results,” Leonard said. “Going into a new year is always different, so the fall is a really great time to build our team identity for the coming year. The success at Cissie Leary really sets the tone going into the winter and spring seasons.”
The Big Green men enjoyed a historic season last year, setting a program record with 18 wins and finishing the season ranked No. 49 in the nation.
“We had a good year last year, but we are always trying to improve and raise the bar even higher,” Drake said. “The goal is always to win the Ivy League title.”
The men entered eight players into singles draws and four teams into doubles draws. Three freshmen competed in their first college matches.
“The first tournament of the year can be kind of tough with guys getting their nerves out, especially the freshmen,” co-captain Alex Centenari ’13 said. “When you get freshmen who come in, you know they’re going to be very talented, but I saw this weekend that these guys really have a desire to win, which is even more important than their skill alone.”
Andres Isaza ’15 and Erik Nordahl ’16 were the only Big Green singles players who won their first main draw matches.
“We struggled a bit on the first day, but we bounced back,” Centenari said. “We learned from what happened on Friday and used it to our advantage. On Saturday and Sunday we went 13-2 in singles.”
Nordahl cruised through the first round with a 6-1, 6-4 win but suffered a 7-6, 6-3 loss to Harvard University freshman Kelvin Lam.
Isaza won his first match easily with a 6-1, 6-1 score and proceeded to win a closely contested second-round match, 6-4, 7-6. Continuing his run of form, Isaza defeated Marist College’s Billy Bishop, 6-2, 7-6, to make it to the finals without dropping a set. In the finals, Isaza lost 6-3, 6-2 to Princeton University senior Michael Lin.
“Andres had the best weekend of anyone on the team, but overall the weekend went pretty well,” Centenari said. “Our plan is to take the positives from this weekend and move forward in practice. The fall is a great time for us to work on our conditioning. We pride ourselves on being one of the fittest teams out there.”
The women will head to California on Sept. 29 to compete in the ITA Women’s All-American Championships, while the men will compete at home in the Dartmouth Shootout, beginning Oct. 5.