The men’s tennis team traveled to Cornell and Princeton this weekend to kick off its fall season, and after playing a number of matches in individual tournaments, the Bulldogs returned to New Haven with some big wins under their belt.
“Everyone played a lot of matches and picked up a lot of good experience,” captain Chris Shackelton ’02 said. “There are many good things we can take away from this weekend.”
Shackelton and Ryan Coyle ’02 traveled to Princeton to play in the small but very competitive Farnsworth Invitational.
The Eli duo won the doubles tournament by taming the Tiger team of Hendrik Chasse and Daniel Friedman 8-6 in the semifinals and then quashing the Quakers’ David Lynn and Fanda Stejskal in the final by the same score.
“Both of our last matches went to 6-6,” Coyle said. “But we got the momentum and things went our way.”
But their run in the doubles was more than just garnering wins — it was history in the making.”
“In the 33 years that this tournament has been held, this is the first time Yale has won an event,” head coach Alex Dorato noted. “And it was our No. 2 team.”
In singles, Shackelton had another big win as he defeated Columbia’s No. 1 player and the second seed in the tournament, Oscar Chow, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, to reach the quarterfinals, where he lost to the eventual finalist, Darren Joe of Princeton, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
Coyle also lost to Joe in the first round 6-3, 6-3 before losing a close three-set match in the back draw to fellow Oklahoma native, Brian Barki of Penn, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
“Brian and I have been playing each other since we were 10, so we both know each other’s game pretty well,” Coyle said. “In the third, he just played a little better, especially on the big points.”
While the Bulldog seniors were serving up an historical win at the Farnsworth Invitational, their underclassmen teammates made quite an impressive showing at the Cornell Invitational.
In their first weekend of collegiate competition, freshmen Ryan Murphy and Andrew Arons won the B and D singles flights.
Murphy, the No. 3 seed in the B-flight, won his draw fairly easily, surrendering only 15 games in four matches. He not only defeated the No. 1 seed, Kent Ball of Army, but also demolished Cornell’s No. 2 player, Chris Lewis, a transfer student from the University of California at Berkeley who beat Scott Carlton ’01 last spring, 6-4, 6-1 in the finals.
Arons had to sweat a little more in the D-flight. The No. 4 seed pulled out three close three-set matches against players from Colgate and Cornell to win his division.
“The freshmen did very well this weekend,” David Goldman ’04 said. “They weren’t intimidated by playing older opponents at all.”
In the A-flight, Goldman, the No. 1 seed, also won three tight three-set matches to reach the finals of the top division before having to retire due to injury.
“I had to retire in the finals because my arm was really sore,” Goldman said. “I was sick the week before and wasn’t used to playing so many matches in two days.”
Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 and Johnny Lu ’05 also performed well this weekend, rebounding from first-round losses to make it to the finals of the backdraws in the A- and B-flights, respectively.
“Andrew and Johnny started off slow but fought really hard and played with a lot of heart to come back and pull out some close matches in the back draw,” Shackelton said.
In doubles competition at Cornell, the Bulldog teams of Goldman/Rosenberg and Murphy/Lu reached the semifinals of the A-flight, while sophomores Neil Tolaney and Dan Arellano made it just as far in the B-flight.
Noting the Bulldog success at both Cornell and Princeton, Dorato described the weekend as “a confidence builder that we are going to have a good year.”
While such tournaments provide the Bulldog squad with good match practice, Dorato also explained that the Eli results are very important and will be considered when determining the seeding at the ECAC tournament in two weeks.
“The seeding at the ECAC makes a huge difference and is really important,” Shackelton said. “Hopefully after this weekend we can get seeded in the top six.”
In preparation for ECACs, the Elis will compete in one more individual tournament this weekend when they host Dartmouth, Cornell and University of Connecticut at the Yale Invitational, their only home event until the dual match season begins in January. Weather permitting, play begins Saturday morning on the outdoor courts located behind the Smilow Field House.