Kelly Whelan (left) and Hideko Tachibana started the Ivy League season 2-0 in doubles (photo Christopher Hill).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's tennis team, which cracked the ITA top 75 rankings this week, will look to extend its four-match winning streak when it faces Ivy League opponents Penn and Princeton this weekend. The Crimson travels to Penn April 14 for a 2 p.m. match, before taking on Princeton April 15 at noon in Princeton, N.J.
No. 72 Harvard
The Crimson (9-4, 2-0 Ivy League) opened its Ancient Eight slate with a pair of victories last weekend. Harvard breezed past Cornell, 6-1, before edging Columbia, 4-3. Camille Jania and Samantha Gridley each provided 2-0 marks in singles play, as Harvard went 9-3 in individual matches during the two days. In doubles, Harvard mixed up its usual lineup and featured Hideko Tachibana and Kelly Whelan at No. 1. The Crimson duo, playing together for the first time this season, swept a pair of matches to become the lone Harvard combination to start the Ivy season 2-0 in doubles. Tachibana had previously been paired Kristin Norton during the duration of the season and are currently ranked as the No. 48 doubles team on the ITA charts.
Throughout the dual season, Jania has been Harvard's most consistent winner. The junior is undefeated in singles at 9-0 during the spring, while pairing with Gridley to go 8-2 in doubles play. Jania has won a majority of her contests in the No. 3 position this season, as the Scarborough, Maine native is 7-0 at No. 3 singles and has played all of her tandem matches in the third spot.
Ivy League Race
Harvard sits atop the Ivy League standings along with Yale (14-3, 2-0 Ivy League) and Brown (16-4, 2-0 Ivy League). The Ancient Eight crown has been up for grabs in recent years, as Yale and Dartmouth shared the title last season, Princeton took the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in 2009-10 and Harvard and Princeton shared in 2008-09. The Crimson is looking for its first outright Ivy championship since 2005-06.
The Quakers (5-9, 0-3 Ivy League), who finished sixth in the league last season, have dropped conference road matches at Princeton, Yale and Brown thus far. Freshman Sol Eskenazi leads Penn with a 9-2 mark in the No. 1 singles spot and has also paired with junior Jules Rodin to go 7-3 at No. 1 doubles. In Ivy League play, Penn has gone 3-15 in singles matches and 1-8 in doubles, with Eskenazi accounting for three of the team's four wins (two singles, one doubles). Eskenazi and Rodin are the No. 38-ranked tandem in the country.
The Tigers (8-10, 1-2 Ivy League) have dropped its last two matches, falling to Brown and Yale on the road. Princeton, which was ranked No. 69 last week and reached as high as No. 40 Feb. 22, comes into the match unranked for the first time this season. In its last outing, Princeton had the score knotted at 3-3 against No. 27 Yale, but Yale's Elizabeth Epstein trumped Hilary Bartlett at No. 1 singles in three sets. Bartlett is currently ranked No. 100 in singles and No. 30 in doubles alongside Lindsay Graff according to the ITA.
Harvard will have three Ivy League contests remaining, at Yale (April 20), hosting Brown (April 22) and at Dartmouth (April 28) to round out its regular season schedule.