At the Yale Invitational, the men’s tennis team was a welcoming but unfriendly host to Cornell, Dartmouth and the University of Connecticut over the weekend.
Struggling against tough, windy conditions, members of the Bulldog squad advanced to the finals of all four singles divisions and walked away champions of both the A and D flights. The highlight of the weekend came from Ryan Murphy ’05, who pulled off three consecutive upsets against the No. 1 players from all three visiting teams in the A singles flight.
Murphy first defeated Cornell’s Zach Gallin, 6-2, 7-6 to reach the semifinals where he topped Jeff Sloves of Dartmouth, 7-6, 6-3. In the final, he tamed Huskie Mike Furman, 6-2, 6-4 to win the tournament’s top singles division.
“I had a great weekend,” Murphy said. “With some wins against some of the Ivy’s best, I gained a lot of confidence that will hopefully carry into next weekend when it counts for the team.”
His teammate Steve Berke ’03 said Murphy has an impressive game.
“Even though he has less experience, he didn’t let it show,” said Berke, an all-American and last season’s Ivy League Player of the Year. “Instead he played like an upperclassmen — with a lot of poise and confidence.”
David Goldman ’04 also competed in the A flight where he thrashed Chris Lewis of Cornell, 6-2, 6-3 but, plagued with an elbow injury, fell victim to Furman in the semifinals, 7-6, 6-1.
Meanwhile, it was an all-Eli battle in the finals of the D singles flight.
After defeating Big Red and Big Green players, both Neil Tolaney ’04 and Andrew Arons ’05 met in the final round. There Arons overcame his fellow teammate 7-5, 6-2 to win the D flight.
“It was a really close match,” Tolaney said. “In the end, Andrew was able to capitalize on some clutch points.”
Johnny Lu ’05 and Dustin West ’04 both reached the finals of the B and C flights, respectively, but were unable to pull off victories in the end.
The Bulldog squad also did well in the doubles competition.
Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 and Prateek Tandon ’03 made the finals of the A flight but could not overcome the Dartmouth duo of Jeff Sloves and James Dinkmeyer, losing the 10-game pro set 8-2.
“Andrew served really well, and that was able to carry us through to the finals,” Tandon said. “But then we ran up against Dartmouth’s top team and couldn’t keep up the momentum.”
The Bulldogs racked up several big wins this weekend even though three top singles players and three top doubles teams did not compete, demonstrating the team’s strength and potential.
This weekend the Elis will head to Harvard to compete in the ECAC team tournament with their full lineup healthy.
Last year, the Bulldogs fell in the second round to Penn State. This year, though, the team feels more confident.
“The team is looking really strong going into ECACs,” captain Chris Shackelton ’02 said. “We all know we can win it this year, especially with Berke back.”
Berke, who was ineligible to play last fall, said that winning ECACs is more than just bringing home a championship.
“The winner of ECACs gets an automatic bid into the national indoor tournament, which would be great for our team to get out of just regional play and compete against some of the nation’s best teams,” Berke said.
But in order to do so, the Elis will have to defeat some of the region’s toughest teams, like Harvard and Princeton.
“Our lineup, top to bottom, is as strong as anyone else’s,” Goldman said. “But we know we need to play our best in every match in order to win.”