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May12, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 13

Sports

Women’s tennis sweeps Ivies, returns to NCAAs

By Brett Tomlinson
Published in the May12, 2010, issue


No. 1 singles player Hilary Bartlett ’12 was 7–0 in Ivy matches.
Beverly Schaefer
No. 1 singles player Hilary Bartlett ’12 was 7–0 in Ivy matches.
Entering this season, the Princeton women’s tennis team had not beaten Yale in seven years, and a loss to the Bulldogs was the lone blemish in a 6–1 Ivy League championship run in 2009. When the Tigers traveled to New Haven April 2, head coach Megan Bradley knew that her players wanted a win in the worst way. But on the court, they kept their emotions in check.

“There wasn’t a lot of drama; there wasn’t a lot of panic,” Bradley said. “They just went out there, fought really hard, and won the match.”

Princeton won handily, taking two of three doubles matches and five of six in singles. The only singles loss, by No. 4 player Taylor Marable ’11, came in a third-set tiebreaker.

A week after winning at Yale, Princeton beat Dartmouth and Harvard — two teams it had lost to in February’s ECAC tournament. On April 18, the Tigers beat Columbia to complete a 7–0 Ivy season and earn a return trip to the NCAA Championships, which begin May 14.

Bradley, in her first year at Princeton, inherited a remarkably talented team, but not everything went according to plan. No. 1 player Lauren McHale ’12, the 2009 Ivy Rookie of the Year, decided to transfer to North Carolina, forcing each of the team’s returning players to climb one rung on the singles ladder. (Freshman Monica Chow earned the No. 6 spot.)

“I honestly think that made us a better team,” Bradley said. “People had to step up in a way that they might not have been anticipating. ... Everyone’s really embraced their position on the team and their responsibility.”

That was most apparent at the top of the lineup, where Hilary Bartlett ’12 went from being the league’s best No. 2 player to being its best player, period. After dropping four of her first seven matches in a tough nonconference stretch, she beat Vanderbilt No. 1 Catherine Newman, then ranked 39th in the nation, in Princeton’s surprise win over the Commodores Feb. 20. From that point forward, Bartlett was 13-3. She won all seven of her Ivy matches in straight sets.

Bartlett also has been dominant in doubles, teaming with Marable for the second year. In 2009, Bartlett and Marable earned a spot in the 32-team NCAA doubles championship, and this year, they ranked No. 26 in the nation at the end of Princeton’s regular season.

The Saiontz sisters — Melissa ’10 and Rachel ’12 — formed another dynamic doubles team, posting a 7–0 Ivy record. Blakely Ashley ’11 was undefeated in Ivy matches at the No. 5 singles spot, and Chow debuted with a 6–1 record at No. 6.
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CURRENT ISSUE: May12, 2010