After starting Ivy League play with two losses, the men’s tennis team set out to turn its season around and avenge last fall’s ECAC championship loss to Brown.

But in blustery conditions that affected both teams, the Bulldogs (11-7, 0-3 Ivy) dropped their third successive Ivy match, losing 4-3 to the Bears.

As after the Penn and Princeton matches, the Elis felt they played well and were only a couple points away from pulling off the upset.

“Last fall we got a good feel for the way they play,” Yale head coach Alex Dorato said. “And it paid off because we played them very close and could have won.”

The match got off to a good start for Yale when captain Chris Shackelton ’02 and Andrew Rosenfeld ’03 won at the No. 3 doubles spot 8-6.

After the No. 1 team lost, the doubles point came down to the No. 2 team of David Goldman ’04 and Ryan Murphy ’05. They fought hard and evened the score at 7-7 but Nick Malone and Adil Shamasdin finished them off 9-7.

Rosenfeld then won the first singles match 6-4, 6-4 over Jamie Cerretani. The Bulldogs continued to roll as No. 5 Johnny Lu ’05 and Murphy, who played first singles, won hotly contested matches. Lu came back from being blanked 6-0 in the first set to win the last two 6-4, 6-1 and Murphy persevered 6-4, 7-5 over Justin Natale.

Straight set losses by No. 2 Goldman and No. 6 Gabe Goldstein ’02 evened the match at 3-3.

Shackelton, playing in the fourth spot, nearly pulled off the upset, as he took the first set to a tiebreaker at 5-5. But Chris Drake slammed the door on the Elis with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph.

Despite the loss, Dorato continues to be impressed by the play of the freshman duo of Murphy and Lu.

“Not only is Ryan playing No. 1 but he is winning,” he said. “The same can be said for Lu who has the best [Yale] record this spring. It speaks very well for the future.”

Murphy is playing well at No. 1 in place of injured Steve Berke ’03 — last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year and a first team All-American.

“Of course it hurts the team not to have Berke in the lineup, because he is our best player,” Ryan Coyle ’02 said. “The bottom line is that our opponents played better on the big points than we did.”

Dorato agreed.

“Not having Steve is no excuse, the team fought hard and is playing extremely well,” Dorato said. “We just lost some close matches to some very good teams.”

Yale’s home opener is Friday against Columbia.

“We fought hard [against Brown] and we lost,” said Shackelton. “Now it is time to move on and direct our focus to the matches we are going to be playing this weekend. We are all very excited about every opportunity we have to beat some of our biggest rivals.”