The men’s tennis team (12-5) traveled to Southern California over spring break to play some of the top teams from across the country and prepare for upcoming Ivy League play.
The Bulldogs went a successful 3-3 overall, including a huge 4-3 win over San Diego State University, the 25th ranked team in the country.
Other victories came over the host University of California at Irvine and the University of Iowa, both 4-3 wins.
Yale lost 7-0 to nationally ranked Minnesota and 4-3 to both the University of San Diego and Central Florida.
While the Elis anticipated some tough matches, they were confident they could play with the best teams in the country.
“Our competition over this break was much stronger than in year s past,” captain Chris Shackelton ’02 said, “but we knew we had the potential to pull off a few big upsets if we stepped up and played well.”
Coach Alex Dorato was happy with the team’s performance.
“I was pleased to come out of the trip with a .500 record,” Dorato said, “and our win over San Diego State was the team’s best win since I’ve been a coach here.”
Additionally, he called their singles play exceptional, singling out No. 1 Steve Berke ’03, No. 2 Ryan Murphy ’05, and No. 6 Johnny Lu ’05, as the Bulldogs came from behind to win four of the six singles matches in their three wins.
Berke, the 42nd-ranked singles player in the country, was the most impressive performer for the Bulldogs. He went 3-1 in singles play, losing only against No. 27 Minnesota. In that loss, though, the Elis’ No. 1 doubles tandem of Berke and Dustin West ’04 notched the lone Eli win. Berke and West went 5-1 on the trip, showing why they are one of the best duos in the country.
Despite their doubles dominance at No. 1, the rest of the doubles pairings proved to be the Bulldogs’ weakness.
In the second and third spots, the teams of Ryan Coyle ’02 and Chris Shackelton ’02 and of David Goldman ’04 and Murphy won just one of 12 matches.
The Eli’s trip was great preparation for Ivy play since it gave Yale a chance to play outside and on the road.
The Bulldogs must travel to four of seven Ivy League matches, including their showdown with Harvard.
“The trip made us aware that we need to work on our doubles, which were exposed as our weakness,” Dorato said. “Now we have two weeks to straighten it out before the Ivy League starts play.”
The team also thought the trip was a success and prepared them for the upcoming season.
“The experience and confidence that we gained will prove critical as we play for an Ivy League title,” Shackelton said.