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Yale Claims Top Spot in Regional Rankings for Third Straight Year

The Yale women's tennis huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)
The Yale women's tennis huddle. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs also Finish at No. 36 in National Rankings

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's tennis team received recognition of yet another successful season Wednesday when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its final national and regional rankings.  For the third season in a row, Yale earned the No. 1 spot in the Northeast rankings, ahead of all seven of its Ivy League rivals.  Also for the third consecutive year, Yale posted a top 40 finish in the national rankings.  Finally, players from across the squad's seniority spectrum secured spots in the final ITA rankings.

Yale was a mainstay in the upper echelons of the national rankings throughout the 2012-13 season, maintaining a top 40 ranking for all but one week.  The Bulldogs put in a strong effort week in and week out, and their consistently high level of play was rewarded with a stellar 17-4 spring record, a third straight Ivy League title and an automatic entry into the prestigious National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I tournament.  Yale's final national ranking of No. 36 is the team's third-best season-ending finish since 1981, when ITA rankings data was first made available.

Also receiving national recognition in the final ITA rankings was senior captain Elizabeth Epstein, who finished at No. 77 in the country in singles.  In Epstein's exceptional career at Yale, this is the first year she has finished a season with a national ranking.  She ended the season as Yale's No. 1 player and with a 15-6 record in the spring, which included a win in the Bulldogs' match at the NCAA tournament against No. 21 Georgia Tech.  Fittingly, Epstein rounded off her final year as a Bulldog by receiving the 2013 Nellie Pratt Elliot Award, which is the most prestigious athletic award given to a senior female at Yale. 

Yet another significant achievement the Yale women's tennis team has now attained for three years in a row is the No. 1 spot in the final Northeast Region rankings.  The Bulldogs went 7-1 against regional opponents who finished in the top 10, including a 5-2 victory in Ivy League play against No. 57 Columbia, the No. 2 finisher in the Northeast.  Along with Columbia, Yale had the most representation in the top 20 spots of the final singles rankings.  Epstein, freshman Madeleine Hamilton and junior Annie Sullivan all finished in the top 20, capping off a year of impressive accomplishments for all three players.

For the third straight year, Epstein earned a top 20 finish in the final regional singles rankings and for the second consecutive season, she achieved the No. 2 spot on the list.  A unanimous first team All-Ivy selection, Epstein once again proved instrumental to the Bulldogs' efforts to secure a third consecutive Ivy League title. 

Coming in at No. 7 in the Northeast region was Hamilton, who put together a 13-7 record in the spring playing at No.'s 1 and 2 singles.  Hamilton showcased her talent and mettle throughout her first year as a Bulldog, but had a particularly strong end to the season, as she went 6-1 in Ivy play and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. 

Sullivan, who finished at No. 12 in the region in singles, recorded perhaps the most outstanding feat of any Yale player this season by winning 19 consecutive singles matches in the spring before meeting defeat in the NCAA match against Georgia Tech.  Her match winning streak had actually dated back to the 2011-12 season, for a total of 25 straight victories in dual matches.  Playing at No. 3 singles, Sullivan went undefeated in Ivy League play as part of this incredible streak and received second team All-Ivy honors for her efforts.  As a testament to how vital each one of her 19 wins was to the team's success this season, Sullivan deservedly received the Lisa Rosenblum Award, given to the squad's most valuable player. 

Sullivan will also serve as Yale's captain for the 2013-14 season, succeeding Epstein, and will hope to lead the squad to the same success it has now enjoyed for three years running.

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity