Jan. 31, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -
There have been a lot of changes to the Yale women's tennis team since the 2004-'05 season, in which the Bulldogs tied for fourth in the Ivy League with a 13-7 record (3-4 Ivy). Katie Granson, who was Yale's assistant coach last year after serving as co-captain of Duke's tennis team in 2003, will serve as interim Head Coach this spring following Chad Skorupka's July 2005 departure to Wake Forest. Danielle Lund, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2001 and played professionally for several years, will replace Granson as assistant coach.
In addition to the coaching changes, the Bulldogs also appear to be in the midst of a youth movement. After graduating Stephanie White and Reshmi Srinath from last year's team, the 2005-2006 squad features no seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, and five freshmen. Despite losing their No. 1 singles player in Srinath, however, Granson did not see this as an obstacle.
"We're expecting a big contribution from our freshmen this year," she said. "There should be at least three of the six in the starting lineup."
Indeed, the Yale freshmen already proved their mettle during individual play in the fall. Christina Cutter (Colorado Springs, CO) and Janet Kim (Palisades Park, NJ) both advanced to the semifinals of the A flight in the Bulldogs' fall opener, the Yale Invitational, with Kim finally bowing out in the finals to Columbia's Milena Kachar. Ashley Miles (University Heights, OH) posted an outstanding 8-2 record in the fall, and teamed up with fellow frosh Karolina Grygierowska (Edmonton, ALTA) for a win in doubles at the Brown Invitational. Rounding out the freshman class is Lilian Nguyen (Austin, TX), who posted a 2-1 B2 doubles record at the USTA Invitational.
Despite its impressive freshmen, however, Yale will be led by its strong junior class, which features captain Olivia Nix, Rashmee Patil, Christine Alford, and Aimee Kim. Patil was named first-team all-Ivy for singles in 2005 after compiling a 6-1 record in league play, and was also selected to compete in the prestigious ITA All-American tournament last fall for the first time.
"Patil is really stepping up," Granson said. "She's going to play high in the lineup."
Aimee Kim garnered second team all-Ivy honors in singles and doubles last year, and Alford was also named second team all-Ivy in doubles.
The fall 2005 doubles team of Nix and Patil earned an impressive No. 15 ITA regional ranking as well, one of only four Ivy League duos to garner such an honor.
"That was good going into the season," Granson said. "We're trying to keep them together as a doubles team for the team part of the competition."
Indeed, doubles play is one facet Granson admitted the team has worked extensively on.
"It's amazing what you can do with the right movements and positioning on the court," she said. "The psychological factor is astounding, going into singles having to win four points as opposed to three."
The only sophomore on the roster is Lindsey Dashiell, who missed much of the individual fall 2005 play due to injury. She did return to score an 8-3 victory at the Brown Classic with doubles partner Janet Kim, which should bode well for the spring 2006 season.
In fact, Granson said that so many different players succeeded in the fall that she may be confronted with the happy dilemma of where to seed each player. Since the beginning of the fall 2005 season, she said, "All of our players across the board have gotten better at doubles. We actually did find ourselves switching people up [in singles] because everyone was stepping up at a different moment. Everyone on our team got a taste of great competition, before they started to compete more at their respective levels."
The Bulldogs open their season against in-state rival Quinnipiac on Wed., Feb. 1. Their tough non-conference schedule includes matches against Boston College and Boston University before they head to Florida during spring break to tangle with Duke, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, and Syracuse.
"[In Florida], playing these out-of-conference teams should really enable us to improve," Granson said.
However, the focus for the team will certainly be on Ivy League play, which Granson is confident the team will be ready for.
"Most of the Ivy League teams are very equal this year," she said. "It should be an exciting season for all of them. The goal for every team is to win the Ivy Championship. As a team, we're focused on being prepared for every match and representing Yale well. If we do that, everything will fall into place, and we'll be satisfied no matter what our win-loss record is."
Report filed by David Sherfinski '08, Yale Sports Publicity