This was not how the men’s tennis team wanted to start the 2007 Ivy League season.
Despite receiving a solid performance from almost every team member at some point this weekend, the Bulldogs (6-9, 0-2 Ivy) came up on the wrong side of two absolute heartbreakers against No. 74 Penn (9-11, 3-0) and No. 75 Princeton (9-5, 2-1), dropping both matches by a score of 4-3. The pair of losses puts the Elis in a considerable hole to start the conference season and leaves essentially no room for error if they hope to have even an outside shot at the title.
“We’re definitely disappointed we couldn’t come away with wins,” Tom Santoro ’09 said. “We still have a shot. There’s a lot of parity in the league and the best team may end up having two losses.”
There was no glaring weakness on the Bulldog roster this weekend. To the contrary, Yale showed itself to be an extremely deep team, one capable of registering a victory at any position. Unfortunately for the Elis, they were not able to deliver a cohesive all-around effort in either match. After recording wins at the top three singles spots and surrendering the doubles point on Friday against Penn, Yale did just the opposite the following day against Princeton.
“We just couldn’t put it all together on the same day,” Rory Green ’08 said. “It’s a bad pair of losses, but we’ll be fine Monday afternoon when we get back on the court. We just have to take care of what we can take care of, play with some pride. Whatever happens, happens.”
After cleaning up at the top three singles positions against the Quakers, Yale dropped the following three singles matches in straight sets against last year’s Ivy League co-champion team. Michael Caldwell ’09 and Connor Dawson ’10 managed to squeak out the only other Eli victory at third doubles, 9-8, as the other two doubles positions were not able to pull out similarly close matches. Losing the doubles point was a considerable setback for the Bulldogs, who fared particularly well in that department during their non-conference season.
“The doubles point against Penn was a tough one to let go,” Green said. “Doubles is something we’ve been working on really hard. We missed it by a fraction.”
Although Yale was able to come away with the doubles point on Saturday against the Tigers, Princeton proved too much to handle in singles play, winning four of six. After taking the first set 7-6, captain Brandon Wai ’07 dropped the next two, losing his first singles match in the Ivy League since his sophomore year.
The Bulldogs look to get back on track next weekend when they travel to New York to take on Columbia and Cornell. But in a league in which every team is a viable threat, both matches present a considerable challenge.
“We’re obviously really disappointed starting off 0-2, but the only thing we can do now is come back and focus on next week,” Wai said. “Both teams are very tough, especially on their courts. We gotta come out and compete. That’s all we can do.”