The men’s tennis team’s biggest enemy this season is the flu.

With three starters sidelined, Yale (3-3) fell to Army (5-4) Feb. 22. But despite having two more Elis fall victim to the flu, Yale remains hopeful of beating Rutgers and Navy, who both visit New Haven this coming weekend.

The 5-2 loss to Army Saturday at West Point came a week after the Bulldogs fell to Virginia Tech 5-2 and William and Mary 4-3, both ranked in the nation’s top 50.

Ryan Murphy ’04 said the Black Knights took advantage of the Elis’ weaker-than-usual lineup and won a match Army should not have otherwise won.

“It was tough, because our number three, four and five singles guys were all out,” Murphy said. “Army came out, played really well and put a lot of intensity in at their own pace.”

Head coach Alex Dorato said when the Bulldogs are at full strength and healthy, the Black Knights cannot compete in talent. Last year, the Elis beat Army 6-1.

“Even with those three guys out, I think we should have won that match,” Dorato said.

The Bulldogs were crippled Saturday by the absence of David Goldman ’04 (stomach viral strain), Milosz Gudzowski ’06 (flu) and Johnny Lu ’05 (sprained ankle), Dorato said. Since then, Murphy and Rowan Reynolds ’06 have also come down with the flu, although Dorato said both still may play this weekend.

Murphy said because doubles matches are played first, a team’s doubles success often serves as a bellwether for the singles matches, which count more toward winning the entire meet. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs ceded the doubles point to Army.

“We had chances, but we lost the doubles point in a close match,” Murphy said. “That really sets the tone for the entire match.”

Murphy and teammate Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 were the only Yale victors in singles play. Rosenfeld beat Army senior Arnaldo Albornoz and Murphy prevailed over junior John Sabia at No. 1 singles. Murphy said Sabia, who stands at 6-foot 3-inches, delivers a blistering serve that is extremely hard to counter, especially at the grass courts of the Lichtenberg Tennis Center at West Point.

Murphy said he hopes the Bulldogs can break their three-match losing streak, even against Rutgers, a talented team.

“Last week was a bit of a wake-up call,” Murphy said. “[Rutgers] plays pretty solid doubles, and they’re a very solid team up and down the lineup.”

The Bulldogs play Navy Saturday, a day after Rutgers, but Dorato is more concerned with the Scarlet Knights, who the Bulldogs defeated 4-3 last year.

“Our depth is pretty good, so I think we can still win, but obviously it would be easier to have our guys healthy,” Dorato said.