M. TENNIS | Bulldogs win Ivy openers

Two down, five to go.

This weekend, the men’s tennis team dominated at home, taking down Princeton on Friday and Penn on Saturday. Both matches, the first two of the Elis’ Ivy League schedule, were decided 4-3.

“It went really well,” Erik Blumenkranz ’12 said. “We managed to pull out a couple of close matches. Starting out 2-0 is really good for our team.”

Tom Santoro ’09 added, “It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve won this solidly so early on.”

This weekend, the Bulldogs managed to win five of six total doubles matches, including all three against Princeton. Throughout the season, Yale has consistently earned the doubles point.

“Doubles is a strength of ours,” Santoro said. “And in these tight matches, it’s crucial.”

The doubles point was pivotal in both wins and gave the Elis the edge they needed going into singles play.

“It was really important we came out and got the doubles point, which we’ve been doing pretty much all year,” captain Jeff Dawson ’09 said.

Heading into singles play, already up 1-0 on both days, the Bulldogs split 3-3 against Princeton and Penn. On Friday, Connor Dawson ’10 at No. 2, Clavin Bennett ’11 at No. 4 and Joel Samaha ’12 at No. 5 pulled out the three necessary wins. Connor Dawson and Samaha both defeated their opponents in straight sets. Bennett recovered after a 4-6 loss in the first set to come back 7-5 and 6-4.

“Connor, Calvin and Joel were absolutely dominant all weekend,” Blumenkranz said. “They came up big time.”

On Saturday, up 1-0 going into singles, Connor Dawson, Bennett and Samaha crushed their Penn opponents in straight sets . Connor Dawson rallied to a 7-6 and 6-4 victory over Adam Schwarts at No. 2, Bennett defeated Phil Law 6-2 and 6-1 at No. 4, and Samaha soundly beat Jason Lin 6-4 and 6-1.

“The matches all got tight,” Samaha said. “They were closer than we expected; luckily the three of us won our singles matches. Overall it wasn’t about who won the matches, it was that we got two wins against two great teams.”

Next weekend, the Bulldogs will be on the road to face more of their Ivy League competitors. On Friday, the Elis will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., to battle the Big Red. So far this season, Cornell is 1-2 in the Ivy League, with a 5-2 victory against Dartmouth and 3-4 losses against Columbia and Harvard.

“It’s going to be tough on the road,” Blumenkranz said. “But we feel pretty good about our chances.”

On Saturday, Yale will face stiff competition from the Lions, who are 3-0 Ivy so far this season. After taking down Cornell and Harvard 4-3, Columbia crushed Dartmouth 7-0 on Saturday.

“They’re both two of the top teams in the Ivy League,” Samaha said, referring to Cornell and Columbia. “We just have to play a little tougher and focus on Cornell first.”

Though all Ivy teams are competitive with one another, Columbia has been pegged as this season’s favorite, which makes next weekend’s match even more important.

“There are all really strong teams in the League,” Jeff Dawson said. “It’s all about who’s going to come out ready to play. If we come out ready and prepared, we’ve got a good chance. Right now, we’re riding the momentum, going after the doubles point, and doing our best so that things fall into place.”

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