When the women's tennis team entered the break, it was not really worried about winning all five of its matches. Instead, the team merely wanted to play well, preparing for the all-important Ivy League season that starts Friday.
But Princeton (8-2) played its best tennis of the season during the break and managed to win all five matches. Wednesday, the Tigers earned their biggest win of the young season, a 5-4 thriller against No. 26 San Diego State (7-4). Princeton entered the contest ranked No. 70.
"They killed us last year," sophomore No. 1 Blair Farr said. "We weren't really expecting to win."
After the singles matches, Princeton trailed 4-2 and was seemingly headed for its first loss of the spring. The Tigers faced the daunting task of sweeping the three doubles matches.
But, Princeton proved to be up to the task as all three doubles teams were victorious, giving the Tigers the upset.
Sophomore Jyotsna Vasisht and junior Olivia Streatfield avenged their earlier singles losses by teaming to win at the No. 2 doubles spot, 8-6. Freshman Gailor Large and sophomore Amanda Hastings-Phillips took No. 3 doubles, 8-2, to tie the match, making the final doubles match the deciding one.
At No. 1 doubles, Farr teamed with junior Kerry Patterson to pull out an 8-6 decision, lifting the Tigers to the dramatic 5-4 win.
Although Farr is Princeton's top player, Patterson is the Tigers' doubles expert. Patterson is not one of the Tigers top six singles players, but she has played in the No. 1 doubles spot since last year – first with junior Jessica Improta and then with Farr.
In the fall, Patterson teamed with Improta in the top spot. But Improta has decided not to play this spring, in order to concentrate on her studies. So, Farr has stepped in, and the duo has gone undefeated this spring, despite their lack of experience playing together.
The narrow win over San Diego State may by a sign that the young Princeton team is starting to mature. Last season, the Tigers lost most of their close matches, including two tough 5-4 losses in the Ivy League.
"We had a lot of confidence after beating SDSU," Farr said.
In its last match of the trip on Sunday, Princeton destroyed Cal- State Fullerton, 9-0. The Tigers won all the singles matches in straight sets.
Sophomore Lili Holodnak lost only one game, winning 6-1, 6-0, as did Farr, 6-0, 6-1. Similarly, Hastings-Phillips surrendered only two games in her 6-1, 6-1 win, as did Large, 6-2, 6-0.
Overall, the team's spring break was a huge success. March 15, Princeton defeated an injured but strong Oregon team. Then, after the win over SDSU, the Tigers competed at Fullerton March 20-22, beating Idaho State in an easy 9-0 match, and Cal State Northridge before taking an impressive 9-0 win over the host Titans.
Despite earning five wins during the break, Princeton cannot stop to celebrate. The Ivies are the important part of the season, and the Tigers are not favored.
"Our goal this season is to win the league," Farr said.
Farr went undefeated during the trip, but will face a strong challenge against Penn Friday from the Quakers No. 1 Anastasia Pozdniakova, who defeated Farr in straight sets during the fall season.
But the Tigers defeated the Quakers in the fall, and if their play from the break continues, Princeton will boast a similar result this spring.