M. Tennis set to finish off fall campaign at regionals

If the impressive show of strength and solidarity in the Army Invitational this past weekend was any indicator of what the future holds, the Bulldogs have every reason to be confident.

Just five days after steamrolling over Cornell and Army in West Point, N.Y. last weekend, the Yale men’s tennis team travels to Philadelphia, Penn. on Thursday for the ITA Regional Championships. Fresh from finishing the Army Invitational with an overall record of 12-0 in the singles draw and 6-3 in the doubles draw, the Elis are confident in the depth to their line-up.

After what Michael Caldwell ’09 billed as the “perfect tune-up for this weekend’s regionals,” players said the team felt ready to go in and give it their all for the last tournament of the fall.

“Everyone has been working hard and gearing up for this weekend,” Connor Dawson ’10 said. “I think this weekend will be great to see how we stack up against all the competition in the east.”

Despite the stellar performance in the previous tournament, the Bulldogs have seen their share of ups and downs throughout the season. Players said the team was focusing on getting quality practice this week to make sure they maintain the momentum from last week.

“The mindset going into this tournament is all or nothing,” Josh Lederman ’09 said. “This is our last chance to recover from a mediocre fall season … we are all feeling confident and eager to compete in the regionals.”

Jeff Dawson ’09 said the team will be ready to play and prove itself on the court.

“We are well prepared as a team in both singles and doubles for this weekend,” he said. “We’ve put in the time and work and now it’s a matter of showing up on court and getting it done.”

Rory Green ’08, who missed the Army Invitational due to a back injury, is going to be competing in both the singles and in the doubles. Green will be partnering with captain Brandon Wai ’07, who did not compete last weekend due to NCAA regulations limiting the total number of matches in which a single player can compete. Also missing last week was Chris Lawler ’07, who was unable to make it because of job interviews.

The team played well despite the absence of its veterans, and several players, including the freshmen, stepped up to the plate. Green said he felt the fall had been very positive for the team.

“The freshmen are fantastic and the team is expecting them to form an important part of the team this year,” he said. “I’ve struggled with my back at times but I feel like I’ve still managed to improve considerably. [Wai] has shown incredible leadership, his sore throat is almost 100 percent better now and he has been playing majestic tennis these past few days at practice.”

The Elis’ focus has been on improving their doubles performance throughout the season.

“Unless our doubles is rock-solid, we won’t achieve our goals this year,” Green said. “We know, and can see already, that we are going to have three formidable doubles teams this spring.”

Even though they have shown a marked improvement in doubles, several players said the area continues to need further work.

“Doubles has always been a priority,” Caldwell said. “In the dual-match format it is a big factor in terms of motivation. This weekend we will just try to show that our doubles is as strong as any other team’s. We will show them that we’re ready for the spring.”

The ITA Regional Championships mark the end of the fall season for the Bulldogs. Wai had won the singles draw in the regionals last year and will aim to defend his title.

Green said his teammates could gain a lot of confidence by performing well at regionals, which could motivate them to put in a lot of work in the offseason for Ancient Eight competition.

“For the Ivies, this tournament is going to send a message to other teams about how solid our team is, top to bottom,” he said. “Obviously there is a long way to go, but we know that we are putting in the requisite time and effort to achieve our goals.”

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