After dropping its Ivy League season opener to Princeton, the Yale men’s tennis team faced an uphill battle for a conference championship — a quest they will continue after sweeping two must-win matches this weekend against nationally-ranked Cornell and Columbia in New Haven.
“This weekend’s sweep kept our Ivy League hopes alive,” John Huang ’13 said. “We all came out with the mindset that these matches were do or die, and we were able to pull out the wins.”
The first of those wins came Friday, when the Elis and No. 68 Big Red took the court. Early on, it was visiting Cornell that had momentum on its side; despite a win in No.2 doubles from Marc Powers ’13 and Calvin Bennett ’11, the Bulldogs could not take the doubles point after losing the two other doubles matches.
Yale responded in the singles matches, however, as Powers earned a 7-5, 6-1 victory in No. 1 singles, Huang cruised to an easy 6-2, 6-1 win in the second spot, and Bennett took a 6-4, 6-1 win in No. 3 singles. Daniel Hoffman ’13 also earned a singles win, joining Erik Blumenkranz ’12 to round out the scoring and propel Yale to the 5-2 win.
There was time to rest for the team as No. 45 Columbia came to New Haven on Saturday. The Elis came out firing, taking the doubles point thanks to wins from the duos of Blumenkranz and Joel Samaha ’12 and Bennett and Powers.
Powers kept his momentum going, earning a 7-5, 6-1 win at first singles to run his Ivy League record to a perfect 4-0. Hoffman took a 6-2, 6-2 win, while Blumenkranz delivered the clinching blow, a grueling 7-6, 1-6, 7-5 win over the Lions’ Nathaniel Gery.
“We knew Cornell and Columbia were two of the strongest teams in the league,” Blumenkranz said. “The two wins were crucial to keep our hopes for a title alive, and it was really a great team effort to pull them off.”
With the wins, the Elis hold a 3-1 record in the Ivy League, their lone loss coming to Princeton on April 2. The Bulldogs currently sit a game behind the Tigers (4-1) in the standings, just ahead of Cornell (3-2).
If the Elis want to keep their quest for a championship alive, they will need to duplicate this weekend’s success next weekend when they take on Dartmouth and Harvard, who rank sixth and fifth in the league, respectively.