Just one week after a frustrating loss to archrival No. 3 Harvard in the Ivy League Scrimmages, the No. 6 Bulldogs swept their next closest in rank, No. 7 Franklin and Marshall, 9–0 in the season opener.
Richard Dodd ’13 said Franklin and Marshall (4–2) is a tricky up-and-coming team, and after a closer 6–3 win over the Diplomats last year, Yale (1–0) approached the match cautiously. Solid play from freshmen and an outstanding five game win from Kenny Chan ’13 over Franklin and Marshall’s No. 9 nationally ranked Guilherme de Melo contributed to the Elis’ success.
“Kenny beating [Guilherme de Melo] was really impressive,” Sam Shleifer ’15 said. “It was a fun match to watch.”
Chan, who was second-team All-American last season, dropped the first match 8–11 to de Melo, a first-team All-American. Chan then bounced back and won the second game 11–9. De Melo reclaimed his one game lead, however, when he defeated Chan 11–7 in the third game. Playing from behind, Chan won out his last two games with solid 11–8 scores to secure a win for the No. 1 spot.
“It felt great to start the season off with a win,” Chan said. “It was a great confidence booster.”
Another tight five-game win came from Pehlaaj Bajwa ’16. In his first game, he defeated Franklin and Marshall’s Brian Henry 15–13. Bajwa then went up 2–0 with a solid 11–8 win. Although Henry took the next two games 11–6 and 11–8, Bajwa broke the tie in the final game with another 11–8 victory.
While the No. 1 and No. 9 spots took two wins in close games, Yale could not have gone 9–0 without solid wins from the other seven spots.
“We pushed hard,” Chan said. “We knew F and M was going to come in hard and everyone dug deep.”
At the No. 2 spot, Richard Dodd ’13 faced rival Mauricio Sedano from last season and defeated him. In last year’s matchup against the Diplomats, Dodd lost to Sedano in four games, but this year Dodd swept him in the first three.
Coming off a toe injury, captain Hywel Robinson ’13 beat Ryan Mullaney in four games.
“Hywel is coming back from an injury, so it was impressive for him to step up and win,” Eric Caine ’14 said.
Neil Martin ’14 won in four games at the No. 4 spot, and Joseph Roberts ’15 topped the Diplomat’s Jack Culter at the No. 8 spot in four games.
Sam Fenwick ’16, Zachary Lenman ’16 and Eric Caine ’14 all swept their opponents at the No. 5, 6 and 7, spots respectively.
“Four, Five and Six are the most reliable part of our lineup,” Caine said. “It’s like clockwork. They just go out and crush their opponents.”
The Bulldogs attribute their success to not only the hard work and preparation they have put in so far this season but also their fitness.
“I think we were a lot fitter than them,” Shleifer said. “We were better prepared.”
The Bulldogs are now 1–0 and will resume competition on Jan. 5 when they take on Colby and Williams in Williamstown, Mass.