The Yale men’s tennis team packed the final rounds in singles at the historic site of the U.S. Open last weekend.
While Yale traditionally shines in doubles matches, the Bulldogs sent four players to the final matches in the singles draws at the USTA Collegiate Invitational in Flushing, N.Y. Since entering the tournament in 2010, Yale has never before sent so many players to the finals in singles, and this year the team was better represented in the late rounds than any other Ivy League school. Second seed Jason Brown ’16 was the only Yale player to win his draw and receive a championship title. But Brown said that victory was not easy.
“The transition [from high school to collegiate play] has been tough,” Brown said. “Everyone in college is good, and they make you earn every single point.”
On the first day of play the Bulldogs had nine players entered into the singles draws. Captain Daniel Hoffman ’13, who is ranked No. 114 nationally, was edged out of the competition early on by Columbia’s Winston Lin, ranked 95th nationally. Kyle Dawson ’14, Zachary Dean ’13, Tommy Ratchford ’14 and Patrick Chase ’14 all had close opening matches but were not able to move on to the semifinals.
No. 4 seed John Huang ’13, ranked 113th in the nation, made it to the semifinals in the A draw after easily defeating Harvard player Andy Nguyen. In the finals, Huang lost to No. 67 Tiger Matija Pecotic, who emerged the champion of the A draw. Daniel Faierman ’15 and Zach Krumholz ’15 both moved to the semifinals in the E draw of the tournament. Brown defeated Emilio Mora of Fordham in a strenuous three-set match to advance to the semifinals as well.
“It was really exciting playing my first matches of the year,” Krumholz said. “We all still have room for improvement, but I am pleased with the way our team is playing thus far.”
On the second day of play, Huang encountered the highest nationally ranked player in the invitational, No. 38 Vasko Mladenov of St. John’s, and defeated him in a three-set battle to move on to the finals. Faierman and Martin Svenning ’16 also made the finals in their respective draws. All three Yale players fell to their opponents.
Brown extended his undefeated match streak to seven after he overcame Farleigh Dickinson’s Yuri Grechenko. The week before, Brown earned a championship title at the Princeton Farnsworth Tournament when his finals opponent withdrew.
Among Ivy rivals Princeton, Harvard, Brown and Columbia, Yale earned the most slots in the main draw singles finals. In doubles, traditionally a strength for the Elis, only the Brown-Svenning freshman duo advanced to the finals, where they lost to the No. 1 seeded team from Princeton.
“These tournaments definitely give us a good indication of how we stack up against the other Ivy League schools,” Hoffman said. “We try to approach them like a team match so we can get used to playing in high-pressure situations.”
The Elis will go right back into play this coming weekend in Tulsa, Okla., at the All-American Championships. Depending on how far the players go in the draws, the team could be on the road for up to seven days.