Success in the lighter portion of the schedule is a good indication that a team is functioning on all cylinders. Success at any time when a team is plagued with injuries suggests a hearty roster. The men’s tennis team (7-1), beset by sickness and strains since the start of the season, but blessed with depth, extended its winning streak to four with a 4-3 victory over Rutgers (1-4) on Friday.
Yale’s atypical lineup card reflected injuries to a couple of its starters. David Goldberg ’04, who plays No. 1 doubles, was forced to the sideline to rest a pulled stomach muscle, while Dustin West ’04, who is generally penciled in at No. 3 singles and doubles, was out with a forearm stress fracture.
“We have not had trouble beating Rutgers the past few years, but no one is over-looking them,” captain Chris Shackelton ’02 said prior to the match. “Rutgers has a good lineup — definitely the strongest team they have had in the last four years.”
At the outset of the game, however, as Yale decisively earned the doubles point, it seemed likely that the Bulldogs would easily raise their season winning percentage. The men-in-blue tandem of Steve Berke ’03 and Ryan Murphy ’05 notched an 8-4 victory against Greg Schweitzer and Akshay Jagdale. Shackelton ’02 and Ryan Coyle ’02 paired up to defeat Kevin Bielen and Maarten Vissers by a score of 8-5 to capture the first team point.
“We haven’t had time to work on our doubles, mainly because two of the starting six players have been out,” Yale head coach Alex Dorato said. “Fortunately, our doubles played very well against Rutgers.”
The singles round provided more of a challenge for the Elis as the teams took three matches apiece.
“We had several guys playing with injuries which left us vulnerable,” Dorato said. “I anticipated the match being very tight.”
On paper, the No. 1 match-up promised to be a hotly contested duel as nationally seeded No. 34 Berke faced Jagdale, winner of the singles title at the Dartmouth Invitational. On the court, Berke dominated, winning 6-2, 6-4 and keeping his season singles record perfect.
After Murphy and Shackelton both fell to the Scarlet Knights in straight sets, Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 and Johnny Lu ’05, who had teamed up earlier to finish the sweep in doubles, split up and each earned a victory to clinch the match for Yale. Rosenfeld beat Beilen for the second time in as many years, winning 6-2, 6-4. Eli rookie Lu served up against winless Deming to triumph 7-5, 6-3.
“We have had a few easy matches the last two weekends, but we were not expecting to be tested by the teams we played,” Shackelton said. “Injuries have definitely slowed us down, but everyone should be ready to go at full strength by spring break.”
Yale will play six matches in California over spring break.