Reaching the finals of the 128-person ITA Northeast Regional Championships is no small feat — especially for a freshman.
Marc Powers ’13 launched himself onto the Ivy League tennis scene with a breakout performance at the championships in Hanover, N.H., last week, winning six matches before bowing out in the finals.
“There are so many good players, and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Powers said of the tournament. “Any player could have done just as well as I did.”
His teammate, Joel Samaha ’12, admitted he was surprised with Powers’ performance, pointing out that the freshman was not feeling his best.
“I don’t think anyone, especially Marc, thought he was good enough to even make it past the second round,” Samaha said. “That might sound bad at first, but it is a testament to the focus and drive Marc had, especially since he was feeling sick throughout the tournament.”
Powers’ tennis career began not far from Yale campus — he is from nearby Stamford, Conn. and first started playing as an 8-year-old at his yacht club in Stamford.
“I was too small for football and too short for basketball, so tennis was just the right sport for me,” he said.
Powers said he did not know that those few lessons would lead him to a varsity tennis career at Yale. Even in high school, being a Bulldog was not on Powers’ radar because didn’t want to stay too close to home.
Despite his initial hesitation, Powers’ future teammates were the ones who convinced him to play for Yale and he’s loving every second of it.
“The team is incredible,” Powers explained. “It’s so close-knit, and such a great group of guys. When I came to visit, it wasn’t even a question.”
Powers had some experience playing at Yale even before enrolling at the school. The 19-year-old won the United States Tennis Association’s Yale Summer Tennis Championships in July to qualify as a wildcard for the Pilot Pen tournament’s qualifying draw held at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in late August. Although he lost in the first round, 6–1, 6–2, the experience has proven to be invaluable in the beginning of his college career.
In addition to his prowess in singles, Powers partnered with team captain Connor Dawson ’10 in doubles at the regional championships over the weekend. Together the pair advanced to the semifinals, beating both the fourth- and fifth-seeded teams before losing to the eventual champions.
Dawson said he has been very impressed with Powers’ prowess on the court.
“He has very good hands, a good feel for the game and he’s very quick,” Dawson said. “He gets to everything, and he pushes you more and more until you eventually miss.”
Powers added that he thinks his performance at the tournament will pump his teammates up for the coming season.
“I play with these guys every day, and for them to see me go out there and beat the best players in the Ivies — they will know that they can beat them too,” he said.
The eager freshman is now anxious to play matches as a team, rather than as individual players.
“In these matches, you support your teammates even more, because their points are just as important as yours,” he said.
Yale will host the Connecticut State Championships at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center next weekend.