Opening Ivy League play on the road at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton this weekend, the men’s tennis team knew it would have to play its best tennis to come away with two wins.

Despite playing hard, the Bulldogs (11-6, 0-2 Ivy) fell just short, falling 4-3 to Penn and 5-2 to Princeton.

While the Elis were disheartened with the tough losses, they were happy with their play and left feeling as if they could have won.

“This weekend was an incredible disappointment,” said captain Chris Shackelton ’02. “We lost two tight matches that we could have won, but I am still very proud of the way our team fought out there. Everyone left it all on the court.”

Head coach Alex Dorato echoed Shackelton’s sentiment.

“The two losses this weekend were disappointing because they were matches we could have won,” said Dorato. “However, I was very pleased with the intensity with which the team competed.”

On Friday against Penn (9-6, 1-1), the Bulldogs got off to a great start as the No. 2 doubles team of David Goldman ’04 and Ryan Murphy ’05 won 8-2 and the No. 3 team of Shackelton and Andrew Rosenfeld ’03 won 8-3 to earn the doubles point. With No. 5 Johnny Lu ’05 taking his match 6-3, 6-3 and No. 6 Ryan Coyle ’02 beating Anthony Pu 6-2, 6-2, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to come out on top.

Unfortunately they couldn’t quite pull off the upset, as No. 3 Rosenfeld lost in a tight match to Ryan Harwood 6-4, 6-4 and Murphy fell in another squeaker 6-3, 7-5.

It was a similar story against Princeton (11-8, 2-1) on Saturday.

After Coyle and Dustin West ’04 fell at the No. 1 doubles position, Goldman and Murphy won 8-4 to give the Bulldogs a shot at the point. But Shackelton and Rosenfeld lost 9-8 in a tiebreaker, and the Tigers took a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs fought back with more impressive play from Lu as he won his second match of the weekend 7-5, 6-4. When Rosenfeld walked off with a win, the match was still up in the air with Princeton leading 3-2 and No. 1 Murphy, No. 2 Goldman, and No. 4 Shackelton all heading into their third sets. However, all three came up short, and the Tigers walked away with a 5-2 victory.

Despite the tough losses this weekend, the Bulldogs still believe they can win the Ivy title and are focused on beating Brown in Providence Tuesday.

“The losses will make it hard to win an Ivy title, but we don’t feel like we are out of it yet,” said Shackelton. “We have our work cut out for us, but we have five matches left and we’re still confident we have the ability to win them all.”

The Elis head to Providence with revenge on their minds.

“We are still upset about losing to them in the fall for the ECAC championship, so we will come out with a lot of fire,” Lu said.