W. tennis easily handles Quinnipiac, 7-0

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yogi Berra might have called it deja vu all over again. But for Sara Mansur ’09, her performance Saturday against Quinnipiac was about knowing how to capitalize.

The No. 2 seed was among the Brown women’s tennis players who contributed to the 7-0 shellacking of the Bobcats (3-5). The team’s seven straight victory – all of which were 7-0 or 6-1 contests – on Saturday improves its record to 8-4.

Mansur’s match epitomized what the coaches called a strong determination to win against a tough opponent. She jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set, but she let her opponent close the gap to 4-3. Mansur buckled down, though, to win the set, 6-3.

She started strong in the next set, as well, winning the first three games. But she lost the next four games, and Quinnipiac’s Jackie Herb was serving with an advantage at deuce, one point away from a 5-3 lead.

Mansur seemed unfazed by Herb’s momentum, however. She won the next three points to even the score at 4-4, and then took the next two games to win the set, 6-4.

“It was really important for me to not lose that game,” Mansur said about being down 4-3.

Mansur said she tried to counteract her opponent’s strong comeback by staying emotionally steady.

“It was just all about not getting too upset when she hit a winner during her streaky period,” she said.

Head Coach Paul Wardlaw said Mansur’s big strokes sometimes lead to closer matches.

“Sara plays a really aggressive style. (There is a) smaller margin of error, which means she probably makes more errors playing that way,” he said.

But Mansur’s risks have paid off this season because, as Wardlaw put it, “She can hang with the big dogs.”

Mansur’s play has helped her to join the rest of the singles players, all of whom won their matches in straight sets.

No. 1 Bianca Aboubakare ’11 cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory in less than an hour by minimizing her unforced errors. It was her eleventh singles victory in a row.

“I was hitting the ball better than I (had been) lately,” she said.

No. 3 Brett Finkelstein ’09 showed some frustration early in her match against Adrienne Markison, a friend from her home state of New Jersey. But she quickly settled down and earned a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory, her eighth consecutive win.

At the fourth seed, Tanja Vucetic ’10 wasted little time in posting a 6-2, 6-1 triumph, beating Amanda Petruzzi in just 45 minutes.

“I’ve been doing all the things I need to do,” Vucetic explained.

Bruno recorded routs at the fifth and sixth seeds, with No. 5 Marisa Schonfeld ’11 winning 6-1, 6-0, and No. 6 Emily Ellis ’10 posting a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

The Bears preceded their six-match singles sweep by also sweeping the doubles pro sets. At No. 1 doubles, Aboubakare and Schonfeld won 8-4. That was followed by wins from the No. 2 doubles team of Mansur and Kelley Kirkpatrick ’08 (8-4) and the No. 3 doubles team of Vucetic and Ellis (8-3).

The Bears will take their winning streak into their spring break home contest against Army (13-4) on March 28, their last match before starting the Ivy League season at Yale on March 30.

Yale’s team is coming off a 6-1 second-place finish in the conference last year, including a 6-1 win against Bruno. In non-conference play so far this year, the Bulldogs are 3-6.

Wardlaw said Brown’s squad has been working on improving the doubles teams’ situational play as the conference season comes closer.

“We refined our game plan with a couple of (doubles) teams,” Wardlaw said about Brown setting its own tempo.

Assistant Coach Cecily Dubusker said the battle against Yale might be decided by the winner of the doubles point.

“Doubles is going to be very important in that match,” Dubusker said.

The Bears now face a nearly two-week break after their victory. Wardlaw predicted that they will continue to have success when they return to the courts because of the talent throughout the lineup.

Perhaps the Bears can take another line from Yogi Berra, who once wrote about his Yankees team: “We have deep depth.”