The Yale men’s tennis team ended February in a big way this weekend, sweeping three home matches against Marist, Fairleigh Dickinson and Stony Brook to improve to 7–3 on the season.
The No. 69 Bulldogs cruised to 5–2 and 6–1 victories over Marist and Fairleigh Dickinson, respectively, and captain Connor Dawson ’10 won the decisive match in three sets as the Elis edged Stony Brook 4–3.
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“Even though it was home, three matches in two days is tough and very tiring.” Dawson said. “The team did a great job staying fresh and prepared for every match. We still have a lot of work to do in order to win Ivies, but this was another step in the right direction.”
Yale’s singles players were certainly fresh Saturday against Marist, as Elis — three of them freshmen — grabbed wins in four of six singles matches to secure the win. Marc Powers ’13 won 7–5, 6–0 at No. 1 singles, while second-seeded John Huang ’13 rolled to a 6–4, 6–3 win. Calvin Bennett ’11 took a 6–2, 6–3 victory, while Daniel Hoffman ’13 fought for a tough 4–6, 6–1, 6–4 win at No. 5 singles.
Later in the day, it was the Yale doubles squads that led the way against Fairleigh Dickinson, as Bulldog duos swept all three doubles matches. Bennett and Powers took an 8–5 win at first doubles, while Dawson and Joel Samaha ’12 won 8–3 in the second spot, and Huang and Hoffman paired for an 8–3 win in the third.
At singles, Powers, Huang, Bennett and Hoffman all won again, and Samaha battled through a three-set match to earn victory in the fifth spot.
After taking those two wins Saturday, Yale had no time to rest on its laurels as a Sunday date with Stony Brook loomed.
The Bulldogs found themselves down 2–1 after Stony Brook took wins at the No. 4 and 5 singles spots, but Huang’s 6–4, 6–1 victory at the No. 2 spot evened things up. Stony Brook’s Ivan Rummel regained the lead for his squad with a win at No. 3 singles over Bennett, but Powers responded with a 6–3, 7–5 win at No. 1 singles.
Meanwhile, the duo of Erik Blumenkranz ’12 and Samaha earned a convincing 8–3 win at first doubles, and Dawson teamed with Powers to take an 8–2 win at No. 2. Bennett and Huang completed the doubles sweep, winning 8–5 over Stony Brook’s Jon Epstein and Palesh Tiwari.
Those wins set the stage for Dawson who, in only his second singles match since returning from a wrist injury, needed a win to break the 3–3 tie.
“I think the whole team had confidence in Connor when we saw the match came down to him,” Samaha said. “Even though it was his first weekend back playing, the whole team knew we could count on him to pull through.”
The captain delivered in a big way, rallying after dropping the first set 6–2 to win the second 6–4, and coming back from a 4–1 deficit in the third set to tie things up at 4–4. That set would eventually head to a tiebreaker — a tiebreaker Dawson would win en route to a 7–6 (7–5) third-set win and an overall Yale victory.
“It was great to win the clinching match, but its only one point and other guys had stepped up the whole weekend and really carried the team,” Dawson said. “These teams were good but they are not on the same level as Ivy teams — we need to continue to fight and play hard and peak at the right time in April.”
The Bulldogs will now have plenty of time to recuperate, as they are off until their spring break trip to South Carolina. If they hope to improve on their No. 69 national ranking, however, the Elis must build on the momentum they’ve gained from the weekend sweep.
“The confidence boost garnered this weekend will definitely help us as we ride the wave of momentum,” Bennett added. “Hopefully we can ride it to the Ivy-League title shore.”