Women’s tennis concluded its season this past weekend with two home victories against Brown and Yale.
This season marked an exponential improvement over last year’s performance when the Lions finished 5-16 and 1-6 in Ivy League play. Head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC ’02, was quick to note just how stark the improvement was.
“This was a great bounce back from last season,” Weintraub said. “Going from tied for seventh in 2017 to tied for third in 2018. From 2012 to 2016, for five seasons in a row, we consistently finished in the top three in the Ivy League so I am pleased to get back to that status.”
Columbia (12-8, 4-3 Ivy) started the weekend strong, defeating Brown 5-2 behind a bevy of remarkable singles performances. Despite the victory, the Lions dropped the doubles point, losing at second and third doubles while leaving first doubles unfinished. The team entered into singles play with a 1-0 deficit. Brown (11-12, 4-3 Ivy), playing with enthusiasm and supported by a legion of traveling alumni and fans, looked poised to strike. Fortunately for the Lions, Columbia’s singles lineup held.
Junior Sarah Hu quickly tied things up, finishing her match in straight sets, winning 6-0, 6-2. Brown briefly regained their lead after first-year Christie Wan fell to Maddie Stearns at first singles, but Columbia did not let up. The Lions went on to win the remaining four matches.
Senior co-captain Adi Milstein won in two sets at sixth singles, 6-3, 6-2, and sophomore Ali Pollack did the same playing the fourth position. Pollack defeated Brown’s Taylor Cosme 6-3, 6-3. These two wins gave the Lions their first lead of the match.
First-year Jennifer Kerr came away with her 20th singles victory of the season as she knocked off Alyza Benotto 6-4,1-6, 6-3 at second singles. Junior co-captain Andrea Kevakian closed out the match with a grueling three-set comeback. She dropped the first set 2-6 before battling back and winning the closing two 7-6, 6-4 to seal the 5-2 win for Columbia.
The Light Blue continued their superb play on Sunday when they faced off against Yale (6-18, 0-7 Ivy), which consistently struggled throughout the season.
The Lions started off the match with a dominant display, sweeping doubles competition with each of their pairings winning 6-4. They then rode this wave of momentum into singles play, where they won five of six matches.
The bottom half of Columbia’s lineup made quick work of Yale. Pollack defeated Yale’s Elizabeth Zordani, 6-3, 6-1 to give Columbia an early 2-0 lead. Milstein finished out the final match of her collegiate career with a decisive victory over Sarah Cameron. Milstein won it, 6-3, 6-1. At fifth singles, Hu shut down Caroline Amos, 6-1, 6-3.
Columbia suffered its first and only loss of the day at first singles, where Wan concluded a disappointing first season with a tough defeat at the hands of Samantha Martinelli. Wan got off to an early lead, winning the first set 6-3. She wasn’t able to hang on to it, however, and dropped the closing two sets 2-6, and 10-8.
At second and third singles, Kerr and Kevakian, respectively, closed out their seasons with the reliable efficiency and poise that they’ve displayed all year. Kerr won her match 6-0, 7-6(4), while Kevakian won hers 6-4, 7-5.
Kevakian and Kerr end the year leading their team in singles wins. Kerr finished her first collegiate season with a remarkable 21-9 record in singles play, while Kevakian leads the team with a 23-7 record.
With the close of their season, Columbia bid adieu to Milstein, its lone senior. Milstein—who was a member of the 2017 All-Ivy Second Team in doubles—finished her college career with a 32-31 singles record and 46-38 career doubles record.
Weintraub had no shortage of things to say about Milstein’s excellent collegiate career.
“Adi has had a fabulous career,” Weintraub noted. “She has been an exceptional leader both on and off the court and has contributed in both doubles and singles to many significant wins over ranked opponents.”
When asked what the key was to this team’s great season-long performance, Weintraub attributed it to attitude and dedication.
“This year’s group had good chemistry and had a lot of fun,” Weintraub said. “They were determined and resilient and worked hard every day. That is what earned them the positive results.”
Looking forward, Columbia will enter next year with the entirety of their current roster intact, sans Milstein. The current roster features four first-years, all of whom have participated in singles play throughout the season, and two of whom—Wan and Kerr—have been playing at the top of the lineup since January. Next year’s roster will also feature a highly-touted recruiting class—ranked first in the Ivy League and third in the country—adding additional new talent to Columbia’s already young core.
The Lions will next return to the courts in the fall.