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Four team wins come for Princeton tennis against Ivy League opponents

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Women come back from the brink against Yale, crush Brown

Junior Lindsay Graff had been in this situation before. Last year at Dartmouth she lost in a third set tiebreaker, which gave the Big Green the win. This year she faced Madeleine Hamilton of Yale (9-8 overall, 1-1 Ivy League) with her Tigers (14-5, 3-0) tied with the Bulldogs at 3-3 in the midst of her third set. After dropping the first set 6-3, Graff pulled away late to win the second 7-5. Serving first in the final set, she traded games with Hamilton until the score read 5-4. In the tenth game, she reached match point at 40-30.

“I just told myself there’s no way I’m coming off the court as the reason my team lost the match,” Graff said.

She rallied back and forth with Hamilton until the Bulldog committed an error and lost the point, game, match and team decision. This win over No. 52 Yale breaks an eight-game losing streak against ranked opponents.

“The level of team support was unparalleled,” Graff said. “We were by far the loudest team there despite being away. We wanted to do it for each other.”

Even more remarkable than Graff’s individual comeback was the turnaround the team accomplished. Yale cruised to the doubles points with wins at one and two and led at the unfinished third position. Annie Sullivan and Ree Ree Li gave the Elis a 3-0 lead by allowing their Tiger opponents a combined eight points over four total sets. Junior Katie Goeppel also dropped her first set at the sixth spot. But the Tigers weren’t done. Sophomore Amanda Muliawan and freshman Caroline Joyce got straight set wins at two and five. Goepel crushed her opponent 6-2, 6-1 in the last two sets and all of a sudden the match was even.

With the win, the Tigers accomplished two things they have not since 2010: an away win over Yale and a 2-0 start to the Ivy League season. 2010 also happens to be the last time Princeton won the Ancient Eight crown, running the table with a 7-0 record. Coincidence? Or destiny?

The next day Princeton travelled to Providence, R.I. to face Brown. The Bears (12-6, 1-1) were coming off a 5-2 win vs. Penn, but proved to be no match for the hot Tigers. Princeton won both of the completed doubles matches and was ahead in the unfinished third. Four Tigers then won their singles matches in straight sets, led by freshman Alanna Wolff’s 6-2, 6-3 victory. Muliawan capped off the weekend with a come-from-behind, three-set victory that ended in a tiebreak.

“We discussed with each other about not underestimating Brown,” Graff said. “We weren’t as energized as the day before, but we took care of business.”

Princeton hosts Harvard and Dartmouth next Saturday and Sunday. The Crimson is ranked 39th in the country, though it did fall 6-1 at No. 36 Columbia last Friday.

“We just focus on one match at a time,” Graff replied when asked if she was thinking about a possible Ivy League title. “That’ll give us the best chance to win.”

Men make it a perfect weekend for Princeton tennis, winning over Brown in thrilling fashion

Freshman Tom Coulatti found himself in a hole. Brown’s Greg Garcia had just broken him and held his own serve to go up 4-1 after several deuces. Coulatti’s fellow Tigers had done what they could, but the match was tied 3-3.

“I told myself to try and stay positive and make the other guy win it,” Coulatti said. “I had great support from my teammates.”

But the rookie battled back, hustling for unreachable balls and winning 20 shot rallies. He broke Garcia for the first time and tied the set at 4-4 soon after.

“I was pretty nervous at this point,” he admitted, “but credit to the guys off-court for cheering me on.”

Coulatti won another break on what he said might have been the best point he’s ever played. At that point there was no stopping the youngster and he rattled off four straight points to give No. 60 Princeton (12-8 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) a crucial league win over the Bears (10-8, 0-2).

Playing their first match of the season at Lenz Tennis Center, the Tigers fought out of several deficits. Brown took a quick 8-2 victory at second position in doubles, but Princeton fought tooth and claw for 8-6 wins on one and three. The Bears took five of six opening sets, but Princeton took three second sets. Senior Dan Davies and freshman Josh Yablon were the casualties for the Tigers and Brown took a 2-1 lead. Four matches went the full three sets. Junior Zack McCourt was the first to finish after dominating his opponent with 6-1 and 6-3 victories in the last two sets. Freshman Alex “Clutchness” Day, as he was announced after his fantastic doubles play, came through again with a third set 6-0 sweep of his challenger. Senior Augie Bloom dropped his third set and all eyes were on Coulatti just in time for him to win five straight games.

“We didn’t come out against Penn like we wanted to, but I think we did a good job of reversing that,” said McCourt. “It was a great day.”

The win came on the heels of a blowout defeat of Yale at Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday. The Bulldogs (12-5, 1-1) were ranked 68th last week, but the Tigers made short work of them, 6-1. McCourt and Day won a tiebreak in doubles to score the point for the team and the floodgates were opened. McCourt beat his third ranked opponent of the season, No. 98 Tyler Lu, 6-1, 7-6. Coulatti and Yablon followed suit to clinch the match for Princeton after barely an hour of singles play. Day and Bloom provided the other two points for the Tigers.

“I liked our energy and toughness today,” said head coach Billy Pate in his postgame interview with GoPrincetonTigers. “There were several pivotal moments and crucial points where I thought we played well. It was a solid effort from everyone against a good team.”

Princeton will travel to Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend for the toughest road trip of league play. The Crimson were ranked No. 34 and the Big Green No. 41 in last Tuesday’s poll.

“We have an energy that most teams can’t match,” said McCourt. “If we show up, we’ll have a good chance of taking [Harvard] down. The frat bros always come out in force up at Dartmouth, but we’ve got guys who respond well to heckling. It makes it fun.”

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