M. TENNIS | Tennis tops St. Johns

The men’s tennis team defeated St. John’s 5-2 on Saturday to improve its overall record to 10-5.

“We knew coming into the match that they were a very good team,” captain Jeff Dawson ’09 said. “We definitely didn’t think we could take them lightly. We gave a really great team performance, especially when it came down to crunch time.”

In doubles, the Elis took the first and third games, earning the doubles point. Erik Blumenkranz ’12 and Josh Lederman ’09 took down their opponents 8-5 while Michael Caldwell ’09 and Connor Dawson ’10 won 8-3.

Going into singles play, Blumenkranz, Joel Samaha ’12, Calvin Bennett ’11 and Jeff Dawson picked up wins for the Bulldogs. Bennett overtook his opponent Pavel Cerny in two sets, 6-1 and 6-3. He was the only Eli to win in two sets.

“Bennett played particularly well,” Tom Santoro ’09 said. “He’s been doing really well in singles.”

Also outdoing their opponents, freshmen Samaha and Blumenkranz performed under pressure, earning come-from-behind victories in their third sets. At No. 5, Samaha came back from a 2-6 loss in the first set to win the second and third sets 7-5 and 6-4, respectively. Blumenkranz, playing at No. 6, dropped his second set against Stefan Nikolic before battling back 6-4 in the third set.

“Both freshmen had good comeback wins in the third set,” Jeff Dawson said. “As freshmen, they’ve been there time and time again and always have a drive to compete and win.”

Blumenkranz added, “I’m happy to get the win, but I’m happier about the overall team win.”

Returning to the No. 1 spot after being sidelined with an injury, Jeff Dawson defeated Asaf Honig, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

In the past, St. John’s has outperformed top teams, including those in the Ivy League.

“St. John’s beat us last year and beat Dartmouth this year,” Santoro explained. “They had close matches [against] Columbia and Cornell. We beat them 5-2; if we continue to step it up a notch, we’ll have a good season.”

This was the last non-conference match for the Elis. The win boosted the Bulldogs’ confidence heading into conference play next weekend.

“For the team, it was really good to get the win going into conference,” Blumenkranz said. “Now we just need to get ready for Princeton and Penn.”

Though the Elis said they are hopeful about their Ivy title prospects, Santoro clarified that they are careful not to be overconfident. Any team in the Ivy League, he acknowledged, could walk away No. 1.

“All of the Ivies are at about the same level,” Santoro said. “Harvard and Columbia stand out, but any team in the league is capable of beating any other.”

In preparation, the Elis are taking practices more seriously than ever and concentrating on each opponent as they come.

“We have a nice momentum going against Princeton,” Jeff Dawson said of the team the Elis edged past in a 4-3 win last year. “We’re having good, intense practices and taking nothing for granted. From now on, we’re approaching every match the same way: one at a time.”

The Bulldogs face off against Princeton on Friday and Penn on Saturday in their first Ivy matches of the season.

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