The men’s tennis team continued its winning streak Saturday when it went on the road and crushed Army 6-1.
“Everyone picked their game up a notch and played great, making a good Army team look bad,” head coach Alex Dorato said.
Even though Yale was heavily favored to win the match, the Bulldogs could not take the Black Knights lightly. This year, Army has already defeated two Ancient Eight teams. The Black Knights emerged victorious against Penn 4-3 last October at the ECAC tournament and rolled over Dartmouth Feb. 11 in Hanover 5-2.
“We weren’t sure what to expect from Army. — We knew they would be tough at home,” team member Chris Shackelton ’02 said. Remembering last year’s unexpected loss at Navy, “in the beginning of the season and playing away, anything can happen” Shackelton said.
Yale jumped out to a small lead when captain Greg Royce ’01 and David Goldman ’04 paired up to win 8-2 at No. 2 doubles while the team of Shackelton and Scott Carlton ’01 defeated their opponents at No. 3 doubles 8-5, securing the doubles point for the Elis.
Steve Berke ’03, who played with several limiting muscle strains, and his partner Ryan Coyle ’02 dropped their No. 1 doubles match 8-4.
“The pain was really inhibiting, and I just couldn’t play my game,” Berke said. “I had only about 50 percent mobility, and you just can’t win at No. 1 doubles with such limited movement.”
With Berke, Yale’s top singles player, sitting out of the singles lineup, other teammates had to play up one position while his doubles partner Coyle filled the empty No. 6 slot.
The Bulldogs welcomed the challenge.
“We knew we could win without him playing,” Carlton said. “Everyone came out very focused and wanted to get out of West Point as soon as possible.”
Their intensity paid off as Yale won five of the six singles matches in straight sets.
Royce beat his No. 1 singles opponent 6-2, 6-3 while Carlton and Goldman, playing at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions respectively, both won 6-3, 6-4. Other victories for the Elis came from Shackelton at No. 4 singles, who won his match 6-3, 6-1, and Andrew Rosenfeld ’04, who prevailed 6-1, 6-2 at the fifth singles spot.
“This convincing win without Berke has given us tremendous confidence heading into spring break,” Dorato said.
The Bulldogs will use this next week of practice to prepare for their upcoming matches over spring break. The team will travel to California to take on some of the nation’s top teams, such as San Diego State University, University of San Diego and Wisconsin.
This spring break schedule will provide the Elis with an opportunity to gather national attention. Harvard and Princeton are both nationally ranked, and if the Bulldogs perform well, they expect to jump into the top 75 also.
The Bulldogs’ confidence and enthusiasm is immeasurable. All of the team members are excited about their chance at winning the Ancient Eight title.
“After our win over New Mexico, we are all starting to recognize our potential,” Shackelton said. “We feel like we can beat any team on our schedule.”