Epstein, Petrelli and Seideman Honored with Team Awards

Special Contribution Award winner Stevi Petrelli.
Special Contribution Award winner Stevi Petrelli.

Bulldogs Celebrate Memorable Season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – On the heels of an Ivy League championship season and the program's first NCAA Tournament match win, the Yale women's tennis team honored three players with awards at the team's annual post-season banquet Wednesday night at Mory's. Sophomore Elizabeth Epstein (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Blair Seideman (Glen Head, N.Y.) shared the Lisa Rosenblum Award as the team's most valuable player. Epstein also earned the Most Improved Player Award. Senior Stevi Petrelli (Harrison, N.Y.), Yale's captain, won the Special Contribution Award.

Epstein went 25-9 in singles and 16-13 in doubles this past year. After playing primarily at No. 2 singles, she moved up to No. 1 for the NCAA Tournament. In Yale's historic 4-2 first-round win over William & Mary this past Saturday, she teamed with senior Vicky Brook (London, England) for an 8-1 win at No. 2 doubles and was up 7-6 (7-4), 4-2 in her No. 1 singles match when the Bulldogs clinched the win. Epstein was also leading her match at No. 1 singles vs. the No. 39 player in the country, Duke's Nadine Fahoum, when the No. 3-ranked Blue Devils clinched the 4-0 win that ended Yale's tournament run on Sunday.

Epstein was a second team All-Ivy League singles selection and had four singles wins in league play. She also went 3-0 in singles during Yale's run to the 2011 ITA Indoor Team Championship, the Bulldogs' third straight title in that tournament, which included wins over Ivy foes Columbia, Harvard and Princeton. She was ranked as high as No. 88 nationally in singles (Mar. 1).

In the fall, Epstein advanced to the semifinals of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Women's College Invitational. She also made it to the Round of 16 at the USTA/ITA Division I Northeast Regional Championships before falling in three sets. Her biggest win came against preseason No. 31 Nadja Gilchrist from the University of Georgia at the Yellow Jacket Invitational.

Epstein won six of her final seven doubles matches of the year. In the fall she teamed with Seideman to advance to the Round of 16 at both the USTA/ITA Division I Northeast Regional Championships and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Women's College Invitational.

In 2009-10, Epstein played primarily No. 5 singles and went 27-7, including a 6-1 mark in Ivy League play. She also played primarily at No.3 in doubles, finishing 16-8 overall.

Epstein is in Pierson College at Yale. She is a graduate of Francis Parker School, where she was the 2007 and 2008 Illinois High School State Champion and the 2006 runner-up.

Seideman, playing primarily No. 3, was also a second team All-Ivy League singles selection. The freshman made an immediate impact, going 26-8 overall in singles and stringing together a 10-match winning streak at the end of the regular season -- all in straight sets. That included wins in two matches that helped Yale clinch the sixth Ivy League title in school history. Seideman beat Dartmouth's Melissa Matusuoka 6-4, 6-0 to help the Bulldogs hand the Big Green its first league loss of the season Apr. 17. Less than a week later in the regular season finale, Seideman beat Brown's Bianca Aboubakare 6-1, 6-2 to help Yale to a 4-3 win. With Dartmouth's win over Harvard that day, the Bulldogs and Big Green finished in a tie for first in the league with 6-1 records. Yale earned the Ivy League's automatic berth in the tournament by virtue of the tiebreaker, the Bulldogs' head-to-head win over the Big Green.

 In fall singles play, Seideman advanced to the quarterfinals of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Women's College Invitational and the Round of 16 at the USTA/ITA Division I Northeast Regional Championships.

In spring doubles play, Seideman played primarily with classmate Kim Szokol (Winnetka, Ill.) at No. 3. The duo put together an eight-match winning streak from Mar. 27 through Apr. 17. Their last match of the season was unfinished, but they were within two points of the No. 90 doubles team in the country, Duke's Mary Clayton and Monica Gorny.

Seideman is a member of Branford College at Yale. She is a graduate of Jericho High School, where she was the 2009 New York State High School Singles Champion.

The Lisa Rosenblum Award is named after Lisa Rosenblum '75, who went 43-2 in singles for Yale, won four New England Intercollegiate championships, and was a part of three Ivy championships.

Petrelli earned the Special Contribution Award after captaining the Bulldogs to a season full of accomplishments. It is voted on by the players and "Awarded to a special person who has contributed much more than tennis and whose presence was vital to the spirit of the women's tennis team". Her biggest win came in singles vs. Brown Apr. 23 with the Ivy League title and the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth on the line. Battling through pain in her match at No. 6 with the two teams tied 3-3, Petrelli was down 40-0 and 5-4 in the decisive third set. She fought back to win the set 7-5, clinching the match, the Ivy title, and the tournament berth.

Petrelli, a political science major in Calhoun College and a graduate of Greenwich Academy, went 14-11 in singles this year. She and her classmates -- Lindsay Clark (Bernardsville, N.J.) and Silia DeFilippis (Short Hills, N.J.) -- leave Yale with a pair of Ivy League titles and NCAA Tournament appearances, something no other class in school history has accomplished. Yale went 63-25 during their four years.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity


2010-11 Yale Women's Tennis Captain Stevi Petrelli: