Wai ’07 loses twice in return from illness

Thought it may have hampered his performance, a throat infection could not keep the men’s tennis captain off the court for another weekend.

Making a comeback from an unfortunate illness that had forced him to withdraw from last week’s tournament, Brandon Wai ’07 put up a strong, though ultimately unsuccessful effort this weekend in Charlottesville, Va., at the University of Virginia’s annual fall tournament. Wai started Friday by losing his first-round matchup with NC State’s Nick Cavaday, 6-2, 6-1, and went on to drop a three-set showdown in Saturday’s consolation quarterfinals against Ashwin Kumar of Harvard. Kumar won, 7-6, 2-6, 10-8.

Despite the losses, Wai, the 50th-ranked player in the nation, sounded positive.

“Obviously I didn’t perform that well, but to me it’s not that big of a deal,” Wai said. “It’s kind of motivating for me, and I think it’ll help me for the season and for performing well in the ECAC’s, which is what I’m focusing on right now.”

After losing a closely contested first set to the 92nd-ranked Kumar, Wai bounced back to overwhelm his opponent in the second. Unfortunately, the senior could not hold on to his edge in the third against the Crimson junior.

“I guess [Wai] ran into some very tough players,” Tom Santoro ’09 said. “It was good for him to get some matches in, though, before the team matches.”

Wai was also down south Sept. 8-10, when, despite a stellar performance in the first round of the University of Georgia Southern Intercollegiate tournament, he was forced to pull out due to a bad throat infection.

“[Wai]’s sore throat knocked him out for a couple of days last week,” Rory Green ’08 said. “His preparation was definitely affected and he was a little under the weather, but it is still very early in the season and he will recover.”

Following this weekend’s matches, Wai will not compete in next week’s Princeton/Farnsworth Invitational in order to train for the upcoming ECAC Team Championships beginning Sept. 29 in New York. Despite Wai’s absence, the Bulldogs will be represented by eight or nine players in the Invitational.

Several players said the Championships, held at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, will be the most important team tournament on the fall calendar.

“We’ll be looking to try to make a better go in the ECAC’s than last year,” Green said. “Last year our lineup wasn’t that fiery. Our doubles teams hadn’t become evident to the coaches and we were still in the fall preparation phase. This year we feel like we may be the best team in the Ivy league, and I hope we can manifest that from the beginning.”

Michael Caldwell ’09 said he felt the team had a good shot at the upcoming tourneys and that the players were feeling confident.

“The ECAC’s are important from a pride point of view, as we are going to be competing against other teams in the Ivy League,” Caldwell said. “Our team is a little stronger than last year, and we should have several players reach pretty far in the Princeton Invitational.”

Several players said the team was performing well at practices and that the team was doing massive amounts of strenuous physical training.

Though Wai is not entered into the Princeton Invitational, he said he will be traveling with the team to show his support.

“I have a lot of faith in my team,” Wai said. “I’ve been very impressed with the way all of them have been playing. Our team is definitely deeper than last year, and we have high hopes to win.”

The ECAC Championships will help the Elis prepare as a team for a shot at the coveted Ivy League Trophy, which was taken jointly by Penn and Brown last year. The Bulldogs have three freshmen additions on the roster — Hyatt Bailey ’10, Connor Dawson ’10 and Matt Schimmel ’10 — who may help improve upon last year’s third-place finish in the Ancient Eight.

“Our priority isn’t to win the fall tournaments, although we are looking for good performances in them,” Green said. “We are ultimately looking to win the Ivy League and looking to make whatever makes it happen in the spring. The fall is basically a time for building our team, a time for freshmen to find their feet, for players to find a good level of play and for doubles lineups to get sorted.”

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