M. tennis heads into break on four-win streak

The Bulldogs are preparing to fly to California for spring break, but they made sure to take care of business on the East Coast before they left.

The men’s tennis team extended its streak to four wins this weekend on a road trip to Maryland. After punishing both Rutgers and Army two weeks ago, the Bulldogs (4-2) returned to the courts eager to win. The team trampled Navy (7-2), 6-1, and eked out a close win against No. 75 Maryland (6-1), 4-3.

Against Navy, the Elis did everything right. Yale’s top doubles team of Rowan Reynolds ’06 and Rory Green ’08 ran over Nate Nelms and Brandon Carter, 8-4. The number two team of Brandon Wai ’07 and Josh Lederman ’09 secured the doubles point with another 8-4 victory over Adrian Lai and Stanley Kahl.

The Midshipmen drowned amid an Eli barrage in singles. Wai, ranked No. 55 in the nation in singles, played No. 1 and defeated Nelms, 6-1, 7-5. Milosz Gudzowski ’06 crushed Jason Hill, 6-2, 6-2, at the second spot. Navy’s Brandon Carter threatened Reynolds by winning the first set, 6-4, at number four, but Reynolds rebounded to win the next set, 7-5, and the tiebreaker, 1-0.

The Bulldogs suffered only one defeat over the weekend. Sixth-seed Lederman lost to Johnny Waters, 6-2, 7-6.

Jeff Dawson ’09, the team’s standout freshman, sat out singles play against Navy on Saturday, but won his No. 3 doubles match with Gudzowski, 8-4. Dawson said he took the day off to rest and gear up for the battle against Maryland.

Sunday’s match against Maryland proved much more difficult. The Elis were only able to win one doubles match, as Reynolds and Green won 8-4 yet again. Wai and Lederman lost at No. 2, 5-8. and Michael Caldwell ’09 and Chris Lawler ’07 took a 5-8 loss as well.

But the Elis fought back in singles to regain the ground they lost. Wai won the No. 1 match comfortably, 6-1, 6-4. The dominant victory came over Andy Orban, the No. 73 singles player in the country. Gudzowski followed suit in felling a ranked opponent, beating No. 86 Nickolai Nielsen at the number two spot, 7-5, 6-2. Dawson returned to singles play at No. 3 and showed off his talents, winning, 6-3, 6-2. Caldwell and Reynolds lost their singles matches, but Reynolds’ match was extremely close: 4-6, 6-4, 1-0.

Overall, team members said they were pleased with their performances. The players said they felt confident going into the match against Navy, but they did not know what to make of Maryland, having never played the latter team before.

Yale head coach Alex Dorato said that in light of Maryland’s national ranking, the Bulldogs were prepared for the worst.

“We knew it would be a very difficult match,” Dorato said.

Dawson attributed much of the team’s success to Dorato’s winning attitude and skillful leadership.

“He pushes us hard, but at the same time he knows when to back off to make sure we are well rested for the match,” Dawson said.

Wai singled out Dawson himself, saying that Dawson’s great success as a freshman pushes the team to play better.

“[Dawson] might be the most competitive person on our team,” Wai said. “He’s very competitive and I’m not surprised that he’s doing well at all.”

Wai has also stepped it up after coming off of an ankle injury several weeks ago. But both Dorato and Wai said the junior star’s ankle is not fully recovered and that he will be even better when the injury heals.

The team will spend the rest of the week training hard for their spring break tour of California.

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