While the men’s tennis team has suffered through two weeks of difficult matches, team members feel they are almost finished preparing for Ivy League play, which is set to begin April 8.
The Bulldogs (3-9) lost five of their six matches in California and Idaho during spring break. But the team gained needed experience in outdoors play against talented competition.
In the Golden State, the team was defeated 5-2 by San Diego State March 7 and fell to the University of San Diego in a 7-0 shutout March 10.
Although the Elis were dominated by San Diego State in their first match of the break, highlights included a straight-set win by Johnny Lu ’05 at No. 6 and a tough 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 win by No. 1 Brandon Wai ’07.
Captain Ryan Murphy ’05 thought the team did reasonably well considering unfavorable circumstances.
“We had them at the top and bottom [of the lineup],” Murphy said. “It’s tough to start off with such a good team, [and] it was our first match outside in five or six months.”
In addition, the Bulldogs were not at the top of their game when they faced one of their toughest opponents of the season — the University of San Diego, currently ranked 34th in the nation.
“They are a strong team,” Rory Green ’08 said, who played No. 5 against the Toreros. “We didn’t really perform on that day.”
Later that week, Yale took down Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles March 12 in its lone victory of the break. The Elis won all six singles matches but gave up the doubles point by dropping all of their doubles matches for a final score of 6-1.
Although the doubles result was less than ideal, the win represented a higher level of singles play — a product of the team’s challenging matches earlier in the week, Rowan Reynolds ’06 said.
“It was a combination of better play and frustration in trying to get a win which resulted in a [watershed] victory,” he said.
In Boise, Yale lost 4-3 to No. 75 Portland March 17. Portland swept the doubles matches to secure the point. In singles play, Wai and Green battled back from behind to help the Elis split the six matches, but their efforts were not enough to best the Pilots, who left Yale in the wake of their 11-game winning streak.
On March 18, the Bulldogs suffered a heartbreaking loss of the break, falling 4-3 to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in a close contest in which Wai had a match point that could have clinched the team victory.
“We came within literally one point,” Green said. “That was a really good performance all around.”
In their final match of the break, the Elis fell 6-1 to No. 41 Boise State March 18.
Despite the losses, the Bulldogs have much to show for their efforts. The experience they gained throughout the break should serve them well during their conference season, Green said.
“We’re playing very difficult teams relative to most of the Ivy teams,” he said.
In addition, the Elis played several matches outdoors — something they were not accustomed to.
“Last year we played the majority of our [Ivy] matches outside,” said Murphy. “It’s a tough transition coming from indoors because of the wind and the sun. It takes some adjusting.”
The Bulldogs have only one regular-season opponent left before their first Ivy League match-up against Penn.
While Murphy said Brown and No. 22 Harvard are the teams to beat in the Ancient Eight, no opponents will be considered lightly.