“It’s been a privilege to coach here,” Michibata said in a statement. “This place has had such a positive impact on me and my family. I hope I’ve left a positive impact as well. I wish the team and the University nothing but success moving forward.”
Both junior Matt Siow and senior Ravi Yegya-Raman expressed surprise at the news but declined to comment. Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67 thanked Michibata and said he wished him “nothing but the best in the future.”
Though the Tigers never won the Ivy League during Michibata’s tenure, the one-time No. 1 doubles partner in the world in 1991 made a name for himself as a coach grooming star singles players. Junior Matija Pecotic finished his run through the Ivy League this past weekend — a season in which he did not lose a single set — and likely clinched his second straight Ivy Player of the Year, the fourth winner under Michibata’s reign.
Before Michibata’s surprising announcement, both the men’s and women’s teams entered the final weekend of Ivy League play with identical 3-2 records and a shot at winning conference championships. To win the Ivy crown, each team had to sweep its final two opponents while a few other teams ahead in the standings had to lose. The No. 72 women’s team (12-10 overall, 5-2 Ivy League) did everything it could to keep its postseason hopes alive by beating No. 73 Columbia (13-6, 4-3) 5-2 on Friday and topping Cornell (9-10, 1-6) 4-3 on Sunday. No. 30 Yale clinched the Ivy title on Sunday, however, with a 6-1 victory over Dartmouth. The Princeton men (12-12, 3-4) did not fare as well as the women this weekend, falling 1-6 to No. 45 Columbia (18-4, 5-2) on Friday before losing 3-4 to Cornell (10-15, 3-4) on Sunday.
Winners of two straight, the Princeton women looked to carry their momentum into Friday’s match with a closely ranked Columbia team. The Tigers struck early by winning the doubles point, with victories by the duo of freshman Katie Goepel and senior Rachel Saiontz and the pairing of junior Monica Chow and sophomore Katherine Flanigan. The No. 34 doubles duo of senior Hilary Bartlett and freshman Lindsay Graff were narrowly defeated by Columbia’s Bianca Sanon and Tiana Takenaga 9-8(5).
Princeton continued to score as Chow quickly disposed of Katarina Kovacevic 6-3, 6-1 before Saiontz beat Crystal Leung in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. No. 116 Bartlett fell to Nicole Bartnik 6-2, 6-1 to give the Lions their first point, and Columbia’s Iani Alecsiu brought them within one by defeating Flanigan 6-2, 7-5. Goepel provided the clinching win by defeating Takenaga in a three setter, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, and Graff bounced back from losing the first set 0-6 to defeat Sanon 0-6, 7-6(6), 5-4(6) to provide the Tigers with their fifth point.
Princeton carried the momentum from the win over Columbia into Sunday’s match against Cornell, jumping on the Big Red early as Goepel and Saiontz and Chow and Flanigan defeated their doubles opponents to win the doubles point. Saiontz continued her strong play on the singles courts, defeating Gabby Sullivan 6-3, 6-2 to put the Tigers up 2-0. Cornell responded with wins at second and third singles, as Christine Ordway defeated Graff 7-5, 6-2, and Ryann Young defeated Flanigan 6-1, 6-4 to bring the Big Red even with the Tigers.
Princeton and Cornell traded the next two points, setting up Chow’s match with Lauren Frazier as the deciding match. Chow struggled in her first set, losing 0-6, but she was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 7-5, clinching the match for the Tigers. The dramatic win capped off a strong finish to the season for the Tigers, as they won their four final matches to finish 5-2 in the Ivy League.
The men’s team traveled to New York on Friday to face a tough foe in Columbia. The Tigers fell behind early when the Lions took the doubles point, as Columbia’s Winston Lin and Haig Schneiderman defeated junior Michael Lin and senior Yohei Shoji 8-4 while the No. 65 duo of Siow and junior Matt Spindler fell 8-5 to Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur. Sophomore Augie Bloom and freshman Ben Quazzo, making his first appearance of the year, prevented a sweep by beating Tizian Bucher and Nathaniel Gery 8-5.
The Tigers didn’t fare much better on the singles courts. The lone bright spot was No. 121 Pecotic, who defeated the higher-ranked No. 96 Haig Schneiderman in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to give Princeton its sole point. Pecotic’s victory continued his undefeated tear at number-one singles in Ivy League play, putting him one victory away from a perfect season.
On Sunday, Pecotic first teamed up with Spindler to defeat Cornell’s Venkat Iyer and Alex Sidney 8-6. Shoji and Siow and Bloom and Quazzo also defeated their Big Red counterparts to sweep the doubles point for Princeton.
Iyer had a chance to avenge his doubles loss when he matched up with Pecotic at number-one singles. Iyer had no chance, however, as Pecotic continued his Ivy dominance and won in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. The victory capped off Pecotic’s second straight year of finishing league play undefeated at number-one singles and marked his 15th-straight conference win, dating back to the finale of his freshman year. Most remarkably, Pecotic never conceded a set to his Ivy opponents this year, beating all seven in straight sets. Given this level of play, Pecotic has a great chance of repeating as Ivy League Player of the Year.
Aside from Pecotic, the other Tiger to earn a singles victory was freshman Zack McCourt, who convincingly defeated Alex Sidney 6-3, 6-1. Cornell won the remaining four matches to defeat the Tigers 4-3.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/04/23/30738/