Money doesn’t make a good team, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
In its last match before the start of their Ivy season, the men’s tennis team (6-8) crushed Manhattan College (0-5) 6-1 on Saturday at home at the Cullman-Heyman indoor courts.
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Jeff Dawson ’09 commented that the Manhattan Jaspers lost their scholarship money this year — in addition to two players who transferred out of the college and one who failed to show up for the match — forcing them into a difficult position this season.
Amid caution tape and other clear signs that the Yale courts are still under renovation, the Bulldogs won all three doubles matches and five of the singles matches to roll to an easy victory despite missing starting singles player and captain Rory Green ’08, who was sidelined with a back injury that may turn out to be fairly serious.
“I heard back from the MRI yesterday,” he said. “It’s not too positive.”
Nos. 2 and 3 doubles captured solid 8-0 victories shortly after the players took to the courts. At the No. 1 spot, Josh Lederman ’09 and Calvin Bennett ’11 fought for an 8-6 decision over Peter Czink, a player from Hungary, and Mihai Nichifor, from Romania.
In singles, the bottom four spots were each decided in straight sets. Bennett, Lederman, Matt Schimmel ’10 and Tom Santoro ’09 respectively charged to 6-0, 6-0 shutout victories.
“It built our confidence,” Bennett said after the match.
Jordan Abergel ’11, who played doubles, agreed: “It was a good lead-in for Ivies.”
At No. 2, Mike Caldwell ’09 gave up only two games before defeating Czink, 6-2, 6-0.
Jeff Dawson’s match at No. 1, however, was more evenly matched, coming down to the wire. It was also the last match to finish. With spectators sitting on chairs and the floor mere feet from the court’s side alley, Dawson battled into three sets before conceding the match to Nichifor, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
After winning the first set, Dawson said he had trouble with his forehand, costing him key points in the second and allowing his opponent to build momentum. Although the Bulldog’s often unreturned sharp-angled serve led Nichifor to shout aloud numerous times in Romanian, Dawson could not pull off the win.
Green, who is from Ireland, explained that foreign players who grow up playing on clay courts often have an advantage in the States. Nichifor, the Jaspers’ No. 1 player, had a good sense of depth and positioning on the courts, he said. More than once, Nichifor hit deep shots followed by heavily spun drop shots just behind the net, forcing Dawson to cover the whole court.
“He had great touch,” Dawson said. “My movement was a little off, and he took advantage by coming to the net.”
“You really have to get inside his head,” Green noted about Nichifor.
But the hard-fought match didn’t get Dawson down.
“I just need to iron out a few things in practice this week to get ready for Ivies next weekend,” he said.
The Bulldogs are on the road this weekend as they challenge Penn on Saturday, followed by Princeton on Sunday.