Finke, Sapienza, Shklover and Zordani Comprise Highly Rated Class
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – This coming season, the Yale women's tennis team will have four new players on its roster, all of them already highly accomplished both on and off the court. Carol Finke, Lauren Sapienza, Valerie Shklover and Elizabeth Zordani join a storied Yale women's tennis tradition, and each will be looking to do her part to help the Bulldogs reclaim the Ivy League title they captured for three successive years in 2011, 2012 and 2013. These four members of the class of 2018 were stars of their high school squads, and all have seen success at the national level as well.
Finke, Sapienza, Shklover and Zordani join Yale's squad as Taka Bertrand takes over from Danielle McNamara as the Swensen-McMahon Head Coach of Women's Tennis. Senior captain Hanna Yu leads a roster that also includes classmate Amber Li, as well as juniors Courtney Amos, Madeleine Hamilton and Ree Ree Li, and sophomores Sherry Li and Caroline Lynch.
Finke is one of two incoming players from Illinois, where she has proven herself as one of the state's top high school talents. Her ability extends to doubles as well, having notched high finishes at national tournaments, including the National Open, where she was a three-time champion. Finke is following in the footsteps of both her mother, Lisa Gollob Finke '87, and uncle, David Gollob '90, both of whom also played tennis for Yale and captained their respective teams as seniors. Together, Finke and her mother are the first mother-daughter pair to play tennis for the Bulldogs.
Sapienza, who has trained at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, hails from Bardonia, N.Y., where she excelled in tennis at both the league and state level playing for her high school. Like Finke, she is a National Open doubles champion. Sapienza has spent her last three summers hosting Tennis For Life, a special needs tennis clinic for those in the local community.
Shklover is a five-star recruit from New Jersey who has been ranked as high as No. 45 in her recruiting class. A decorated high school player, she finished runner-up this year at the state championship and was a three-time champion in her county for No. 1 singles. In addition to her individual successes, she helped her team capture league championships in 2013 and 2014. At the national level, she was ranked as high as No. 75 in 2012 and reached the Round of 16 at the National Hard Court Championships.
Zordani, also from Illinois and another high school standout, has been ranked as high as No. 47 in her recruiting class and led her high school squad to no less than three state championships. In addition to finishing runner-up in doubles at the state championship, as well as twice earning a fifth-place finish in singles at the state championship, she has enjoyed a prolific junior career in both singles and doubles at the regional and national level.
With four exceptional talents set to join Yale's ranks for the upcoming 2014-15 season, Yale garnered enough votes to place it as the 26th-best Division I recruiting class in the country.
Here is a closer look at the newest members of the Yale women's tennis team:
New Trier High School
Before Yale: Five-star recruit … Ranked as highly as No. 67 in her recruiting class in 2014 … Co-captain of her high school squad in her junior and senior years … Played at No. 1 singles for all four years … Took fourth place at the state championship in her senior year … Received First Team All-State selections in 2011, 2012 and 2013 … Earned statewide recognition for sportsmanship in 2013 … Led her team to a runner-up finish at the state championship in 2011 … Ranked as high as No. 11 in the Midwest and No. 141 in the nation in 2013 … Also ranked in the top 40 in the country for doubles … Won the 2013 Chicago District Tennis Association Female Junior Player of the Year Award … Has placed fourth in doubles twice at Level 1 (Winter Nationals and Clay Court Nationals) events … Three-time National Open doubles champion.
Notes: Volunteers as one of the directors of the Carol Gollob Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, a charity foundation that raises money for breast cancer research through an annual tennis clinic attended by 150 people with 50 tennis professionals … Her mother, Lisa Gollob Finke '87, and uncle, David Gollob '90, both played tennis for Yale and captained their respective squads in their senior years … Lisa and Carol comprise the first ever mother-daughter pair to play tennis for Yale … Her father, Thomas Finke, played golf for Claremont McKenna College and captained the team during his senior year.
Why Yale? "During my visit to Yale as a senior, the team was incredibly welcoming and it was clear they had a remarkable enthusiasm for the school. The opportunity to be on a team with such extraordinary women, as well as Yale's balance of athletics, academics and social life are why I chose Yale. The students, professors and alumni I have met had a variety of interests, but they all shared a common passion for Yale. Each meeting has enhanced my belief that the Yale community will inspire, challenge and be a home for me the rest of my life."
Clarkstown High School South
Before Yale: Conference champion, All-League, All-Section and All-State Team MVP in her sophomore year … Rockland County Athlete of the Season … First player from her school in 10 years to advance to the state championship … National Open doubles champion … Two-time Sectional doubles champion … Trained at John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
Notes: Has hosted Tennis For Life, a summer special needs tennis clinic, for the past three years … AP Scholar with Honors … National Honor Society … Student Body President in her senior year … Two younger siblings are accomplished fencers.
Why Yale? "I choose Yale because there is no better place that combines world class academics with outstanding athletics in a vibrant community."
Fair Lawn, N.J.
Fair Lawn High School
Before Yale: Five-star recruit … Ranked as highly as No. 45 in her recruiting class in 2014 … State championship runner-up in 2014 … Three-time Bergen County champion for No. 1 singles … Was named team MVP four years in a row … Led her team to league championships in 2013 and 2014 … Earned First Team All-State honors in 2010 and 2013 … Reached round of 16 of National Hard Courts … Ranked as high as No. 75 in the nation in 2012.
Notes: National Merit Commended Scholar … AP Scholar … Member of the National Honor Society … Member of the National French Honor Society … Volunteered with and tutored exchange students within her community.
Why Yale? "I thought it was the school that best combined both intense academics and athletics."
Lake Forest, Ill.
Lake Forest High School
Before Yale: Five-star recruit … Ranked as highly as No. 47 in her recruiting class in 2014 … Led her high school team to three state championship victories … MVP all four years … First Team All-State … Placed runner-up in doubles at the 2010 state championship … Earned a fifth-place finish at the state championship in singles in 2012 and 2013 … Played on the Marian Baird Wood Team Cup championship team in 2014 (finalists in 2012 and 2013) … Won the G18s USTA regional tournament in singles and doubles in 2014 … Won the USTA Midwest Closed in doubles in 2013 and was a finalist in doubles in 2014 … Doubles quarterfinalist at the USTA Winter National Championships in 2012 … Finalist at the USTA Chicago district qualifier in 2014 and sportsmanship award recipient … Finished in the top eight of the G16s USTA Winter National Championships in singles in 2011.
Notes: Comes from a family of tennis players … Older sister plays tennis for Iowa and older brother plays tennis for Wisconsin-Madison … Younger siblings also play tennis competitively … Member of the Cum Laude society … Enjoys singing, playing the piano, drawing and painting.
Why Yale? "I chose Yale because of the tight-knit community that it has to offer, and also because of the positive and encouraging environment that Yale emits. I'm so excited to spend the next four years of my life attending a school with such a high academic standard and being a part of an exceptional tennis team."
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity