The No. 36 women's tennis team easily cleared its second and third hurdles in the chase for the Ivy League title this weekend, drubbing No. 39 Harvard and Dartmouth on the road. The two wins pushed the Lions' winning streak to 10 matches and kept them atop the Ancient Eight standings.
Columbia (14-2, 3-0 Ivy) began the weekend in Cambridge, Mass., with a 6-1 beatdown of the Crimson (9-5, 1-1 Ivy). As they have all season, the Light Blue's top two doubles pairs led the way, with the No. 14 pair of senior Bianca Sanon and sophomore Kanika Vaidya and the No. 30 tandem of junior Crystal Leung and first-year Tina Jiang each winning their matches, 8-4.
“I always tell them it's your job in doubles to make your partner look good. So when they work together and work as one unit, I think that's what makes the most successful doubles teams,” head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC '02, said. “And I think that's what they're doing better than their opponents.”
The success rolled right on into singles, with the Lions taking the top five matches. Playing on the second court, Jiang was first off, cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 victory, and No. 71 Vaidya followed with a 6-0, 6-2 win on the first court. Senior Ioana Alecsiu delivered the clincher on the fifth court, 7-5, 6-2. Sanon and Leung also took care of business, with the junior winning in three sets.
“Crystal, at No. 4, I think played one of the smartest matches I've seen her play all season,” Weintraub said. “And at one, two, and three, we really dominated. I think Bianca, Kanika, and TJ [Jiang] are playing with tremendous confidence. Their level is just a bit higher than some of the other top players at both Harvard and Dartmouth.”
The next day produced more of the same in Hanover, N.H., as the Light Blue beat the Big Green (5-7, 1-1 Ivy) by an identical 6-1 score. With the top two doubles teams again securing the day's first point, Vaidya recorded the first singles win, 6-1, 7-6 (5). Alecsiu gave Columbia a 3-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-1 victory on the sixth court, while Jiang clinched the match with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 win on the third court.
“Dartmouth is a talented group,” Weintraub said. “I'm sure they're going to have some success in the next few weeks because they have some very talented, solid players.”
After two weekends of Ivy play, Columbia is tied with Princeton (13-5, 3-0 Ivy) for first in the Ancient Eight. The Tigers beat No. 52 three-time defending Ivy champion Yale with a 4-3 comeback victory on Friday before rolling past Brown, 6-1, on Saturday.
Regardless of what is going on elsewhere in the league, Weintraub said she feels good about the way Columbia has been playing in its quest to win an outright title.
“Our girls are playing with tremendous confidence,” she said. “I think they feel really ready and really prepared. They're really focused and determined to reach their goals.”
With four Ivy matches to go, the Lions will take on the Bears and the Elis next weekend at home.