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Squads post mixed results in Ivy opening

A week and a half before the season began in January, the men's and women's tennis teams hit a setback. A monstrous winter storm took down a part of the Paul Bailey Pizzitola Memorial Sports Center's membrane roof, and a large patch of snow landed in the middle of the tennis courts. But the teams took it in stride and moved practices and home games to the Centre Court Tennis Club in Riverside for a month while their home court was repaired.

"We had to play late at night, and we were already tired from classes," Bianca Aboubakare '11 said. "It was pretty bad for team morale."

Despite this difficulty, the women's team (13-6, 2-0 Ivy League) rocketed into its Ivy season over the weekend, picking up a win against Princeton (9-8, 2-1 Ivy) in the conference opener Friday and then defeating Penn (6-11, 0-3 Ivy) Saturday afternoon.

The men's team (13-4, 0-2 Ivy) did not have the same success against its first Ivy challengers. The Tigers (10-6, 3-0 Ivy) and Quakers (11-3, 1-2 Ivy) both edged out the Bears 4-3 in close matches over the opening weekend.

The women's team took a while to get on its feet. After four losses, the team picked up its first win against Boston College Feb. 10, followed by a big victory and record-breaking day against Davidson College. The Bears swept the doubles points, giving away only five games, and took five out of six singles matches in straight sets.

Aboubakare broke the record for career wins in both singles and doubles, with 85 and 72 wins, respectively.

The game against Davidson propelled the Bears into what has so far been a succesful season. Bruno has gone 11-2 since then, losing only to Princeton and William and Mary.

But the Bears sought to avenge their loss to Princeton, last year's Ivy champions. When Bruno took on the Tigers in February, the team lost 5-2. But this Friday at Princeton, the Bears gave up only the No. 2 singles and the No. 1 doubles matches.

"This was our greatest achievement this season," Women's Head Coach Paul Wardlaw said. "We were relaxed, very comfortable, and the freshmen dealt with the pressure well. (Princeton) may have underestimated us from our loss earlier this season."

The Bears won four of five singles matches in straight sets. The exception, Misia Krasowski '13, came back from losing her first set of the No. 1 singles match to take the next two sets for the win. Krasowski also paired with Julie Flanzer '12 for an 8-2 win at No. 3 doubles.

 "It was exciting — it was the first win against Princeton in my career, and in my coach's as well," Aboubakare said.

Bruno continued its Ivy tour in Philadelphia Saturday. The Bears gave up the No. 1 match in both singles and doubles but powered through to sweep the rest of the matches and take the win 6-1. Aboubakare and rookie Jessica Harrow '14 both overcame early deficits to win their matches at No. 2 and No. 4 singles, respectively.

"All of us had to grind out a match," Aboubakare said. "They were the underdog, but they were fighting hard."

Unlike the women, the men's team started out its season with a five-match winning streak. The men's squad lost once at the ECAC Indoor Championship, then went on a six-match win streak before its Ivy opener.

Facing Princeton Friday, the Bears were in the lead after the doubles matches, where co-captain Kendrick Au '11 and Tom Deighton '13 pulled out a close victory 9-7 at the No. 2 doubles match. The Tigers quickly caught up after the first singles match and set the determining match at the No. 4 spot, where Princeton took a 3-2 lead. Despite a win by Soufiane Azargui '14, the Tigers prevailed 4-3.

The Bears were up again after the doubles section of the day Saturday with wins against the Quakers at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots. After three hard-fought sets in the No. 2 singles match, the Bears ceded to the Quakers and walked away with their second Ivy League loss.

Both the men's and women's teams face two more Ivy opponents this weekend. While the men hit the road to challenge Cornell and Columbia, the women are set to host the Big Red and the Lions at home at the Pizzitola April 9-10.


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