Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass tennis beats Ivy League opponent for the first time ever in thriller over Yale

Kovacevic seals win in No. 3 singles

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Tim Sorota, Collegian Staff

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Throughout the entire history of its program, the Massachusetts tennis team has squared off against teams from the Ivy League and come up on the short end of the scoreboard.

That changed Saturday, as UMass defeated Yale 4-3 in New Haven, Connecticut, earning the team’s first ever win against an opponent from the Ivy League.

First year coach Juancarlos Nunez knows the significance of this win for his program. Nunez has coached in the Ivy League as an assistant for Brown and has been on the wrong end of many matches against the eight rival schools as an assistant for UMass.

“In terms of Northeast tennis, the Ivy League has always dominated,” Nunez said. “The players were beyond excited after the match. In the past, we had played all these Ivy schools and had not been able to get the job done, but to be able to finally get a win means a lot.”

Earning that first would not be easy. UMass dropped the first doubles contest at the No. 2 position, putting itself in danger of dropping the first point to the Bulldogs.

But the teams of Ana Yrazusta and Laura Moreno, followed by Ruth Crawford and Ashley Avery, took their competitions as UMass would take two-of-three doubles matches to earn the first point of the match.

“That doubles point is big, and it was very big Saturday,” Nunez said. “Our doubles have been a little up-and-down, and its something we have been focusing on, because we know that if we can start getting that doubles point more consistently, it will make things a lot easier going forward.”

Getting the extra doubles point was all the difference in the win, as the Bulldogs and the Minutewomen would split the singles contests 3-3.

After rallying from one match down to win the point, UMass went up 2-0 thanks to a singles victory from Martina Bocchi at the sixth position. Yale would get wins at number one and four while Ana Yrazusta won the second seed contest to make the score 3-2 with only the third and a potential seventh seed tiebreaker still to come.

With the opportunity to win the match for her team, sophomore Janja Kovacevic continued her impressive spring campaign by defeating Valerie Shklover 6-4, 6-2 to clinch the win for the Minutewomen.

In seemingly every match this spring, the Zemun, Serbia native has remained cool and calm in big moments. Kovacevic has been a model for everything Nunez is trying to get out of his team.

“Going forward, we just want to stay within ourselves,” Nunez said. “Do not try to do anything we can not do, like crazy trick shots or anything like that. And that was our goal for this week: That if we just trust our game and what we do every day, it will be enough to win these matches.”

The Minutewomen will look to build on Saturday’s victory when they take on Quinnipiac Thursday in Hamden, Connecticut, before returning to Atlantic 10 play.

Tim Sorota can be reached at [email protected]

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