In a key weekend of Ivy play for the No. 65 men’s tennis team, the Bulldogs split their matches against two nationally ranked opponents.
The road-trip for the Elis (16–5, 2–2 Ivy) began with an upset over the No. 51 Cornell Big Red (12–7, 1–3 Ivy) on Saturday, 4–3. With only a night to recover, Yale fell to the No. 49 Columbia Lions (12–8, 3–2 Ivy) Sunday 6–1 to record their second loss to an Ancient Eight rival.
“The loss obviously hurts our chances of winning the Ivy League,” Jason Brown ’16 said. “If we can play well for the rest of the year we know that the results will take care of themselves.”
Cornell posed many threats to the Bulldogs going into the match. The Big Red had won the ECAC Division I Indoor Team Championships in February, defeating Brown, Harvard and Columbia on their way to the title. Last year Yale fell 4–3 to Cornell at home. The Elis were able to flip the result this year by recovering quickly from an early loss in the doubles point.
At No. 1, the veteran duo of Marc Powers ’13 and team captain Daniel Hoffman ’13 led the charge for Yale by gaining the first victory of the day, 8–4. But Yale lost at No. 2 and No. 3,and Cornell took the doubles point. In singles, the score eventually evened out to 3–3 when John Huang ’13, Hoffman and Martin Svenning ’16 tallied wins for the Bulldogs. The final decision came down to the No. 6 singles match-up between Zach Dean ’13 and Cornell’s Kyle Berman. The win was decided by a third-set tie-breaker in which Dean was able to clinch the victory for his team by fending off two match points.
“Against Cornell, we had an up and down day,” Dean said. “I was hitting the ball OK, but thought I did a really good job of embracing the moment, playing one point at a time and focusing on executing my game plan. It felt really good to be able to pull that one out for the team.”
The next day the Lions proved a tough opponent for the tired Elis, just as they had the year before in a five-hour competition full of loud fans and line disputes. This year, the Bulldogs gained the upper hand in doubles play with an early win at No. 2 by Patrick Chase ’14 and Huang, 8–6. The momentum turned when Columbia retaliated with a win at the No. 1 and No. 3 positions, and the doubles point came down to a tiebreaker 9–8 in favor of the Lions.
Yale went into singles play down 1–0, and the team was not able to come back from the deficit. Columbia solidified its lead with wins at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 to bring the score up to 4–0 over the Bulldogs. Svenning’s loss at No. 4 marked his first loss in conference play in his rookie season. Huang put up a fight at No. 1 against Columbia’s nationally ranked No. 60 Winston Lin, coming out on top with a three-set victory over the second highest ranked Ivy League player in the country.
“The loss should only motivate us to finish the year on a positive note,” Huang said. “It was a really heartbreaking match but we still have three matches left and one of them is against our rival, Harvard. We’ve put in a lot of hard work to be the best team we could be this year and we have to finish strong.”
For their next series of conference play, the Bulldogs will face No. 70 Dartmouth up in Hanover and the Harvard Crimson at home.