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Women's Tennis Tops St. John's, Claims Third Straight Home Win

Sylvia Li was a winner in doubles and singles against St. John's Saturday afternoon (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Harvard women's tennis team closed out its five-match home stand with its third consecutive victory Saturday afternoon. The Crimson took down St. John's, 4-3, at the Murr Center to finish 3-2 during its stretch of home matches.

Harvard opened the match with a 1-0 lead after cruising in three doubles matches. The Crimson's three pairs did not allow the Red Storm to win more than three games during the eight-game pro set matches. 

Hideko Tachibana and Kristin Norton, who are ranked No. 29 among doubles tandems in the nation, were the most dominant winners, defeating Nevena Selakovic and Nakita Austin, 8-2, in the No. 1 position. Hannah  Morrill and Kelly Whelan won, 8-3, at No. 2 and Natalie Blosser and Sylvia Li were up 3-0 before their opponents retired in the No. 3 spot.

On the singles side, The Crimson won the first three matches to accumulate the necessary four points needed to secure the match. 

Tachibana continued the momentum she gained in doubles and rolled to a win in straight sets over Joanna Zwirbulis in the No. 2 spot. The Harvard junior did not allow Zwirbulis to take a game, as she won back-to-back 6-0 decisions.

Sylvia Li nearly matched Tachibana's flawless performance with a win over Terri Thomas of St. John's in the No. 6 position. Li won the first set, 6-1, before sweeping Thomas, 6-0, in the second set. Kelly Whelan was Harvard's third winner, as the Red Storm's Lyubov Pogribnvak retired after Whelan raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set at No. 5.

After the match, the Harvard squad gave back to the local community by hosting a clinic featuring Wheelchair tennis. Mike Mercier, Harvard Head Tennis Pro and USTA New England Wheelchair professional, led the clinic that featured Merrimack Valley Academy of Tennis and Harvard players.


The Crimson will travel to Orlando, Fla. next weekend to take on Iowa March 17 and Central Florida March 18.

Doubles (3-0 Harvard)
1. Tachibana/Norton (H) defeated Selakovic/Austin 8-2
2. Morrill/Whelan(H) defeated Firat/Zwirbulis 8-3
3. Blosser/Li (H) defeated Thomas/Pogribnyak 3-0 (ret.)

Singles (3-3)
1. Selakovic (St. J) defeated Norton (H) 6-2, 6-2
2. Tachibana (H) defeated Zwirbulis (St. J) 6-0, 6-0
3. Firat (St. J) defeated Gridley (H) 6-2, 6-1
4. Austin (St. J) defeated Morrill (H) 6-3, 7-6 (5)
5. Whelan (H) defeated Pogribnyak (St. J) 3-0 (ret.)
6. Li (H) defeated Thomas (St. J) 6-1, 6-0