The men’s tennis team saw its first action since spring break last Saturday, when the newly ranked No. 56 Bulldogs (12-1) rolled over the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University 5-2 at home.
“Rutgers was a better team than we expected,” Carlton said. “But we played well, and it’s a good win coming back from spring break and going back indoors.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead by winning two of three doubles matches and securing the doubles point.
Dustin West ’04 returned to the lineup after an elbow injury kept him out all winter. He paired up with his fall season partner, Steve Berke ’03, to beat their opponents at the No. 2 position 8-5.
With West back playing, Berke’s former partner Ryan Coyle ’02 paired up with teammate Scott Carlton ’01 to win 8-4 at the No. 3 spot.
Captain Greg Royce ’01 and David Goldman ’04 did not fair as well as their teammates and lost 8-4 to their No. 1 doubles competitors.
“Our doubles is looking really strong,” Carlton said. “Dustin is back, Gabe [Goldstein '02] might be coming back soon and Coyle is playing really well. This deeper lineup gives us a lot of options.”
The singles lineup received a change as well. Berke, Yale’s top singles player, sat out of the lineup with an elbow injury, moving every other Bulldog player up one position. Ben Woodhouse ’03 stepped up to fill the empty slot at No. 6 singles.
Goldman avenged his earlier loss with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over doubles opponent Greg Schwietzer at the No. 2 singles position as Carlton and Chris Shackelton ’02 both crushed their opponents 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 3 and No. 4 slots, respectively.
With those three victories, the Elis secured a win over the Scarlet Knights, and freshman Andrew Rosenfeld’s 6-3, 6-1 triumph at No. 5 singles added to the Bulldogs’ decisive victory.
Rutgers won its two points of the day at the top and bottom of the singles lineup.
Royce lost 7-5, 6-1 at the No.1 position to Ashkay Jagdale, a very tough opponent who took a set from Princeton’s No. 1 player Kyle Kliegerman earlier this season.
Woodhouse lost a nail-biter to his No. 6 singles opponent. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Woodhouse rebounded to take the second set 6-1. But Woodhouse was unable to hold on to his momentum from the second and lost the final set 6-4.
“We switched up the lineup since spring break a little and still did very well,” Shackelton said. “Matches like this one gives us good preparation for future tough Ivy matches.”
Even more exciting than its defeat of Rutgers is the team’s emergence in national rankings.
Big spring break wins in California, such as their decisive 6-1 victory over Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin and a 4-3 win over the mighty Aztecs of San Diego State University, gained the Bulldogs national recognition and catapulted them from outside the top 75 to No. 56 in the nation.
“This is our first ranking this year and the highest ranking we can remember,” Royce said. “It’s great to be recognized.”
Even though their Crimson rivals are ranked even higher at No. 28, the Bulldogs still believe they have a great opportunity to win the Ivy League.
“We know [Harvard is] solid, but we are not intimidated,” Shackelton said. “The title is between three teams, and it’s going to come down to one close match either way.”
In their final tune-up before Ivy play, the Bulldogs play host to Navy Saturday. The Elis defeated the Midshipmen in the fall at the ECAC tournament 5-2, but fell to them 7-0 last spring. Play begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Cullman Tennis Center.