Despite poor officiating and lingering illness, the men’s tennis team held on this weekend to beat visiting Rutgers and the United States Naval Academy, setting the Bulldogs up for their spring break jaunt to Southern California.
The 6-1 indoor victory over Navy on Saturday proved to be easier than Friday’s close 4-3 Rutgers matchup. After losing the doubles point to the Scarlet Knights, the Elis bounced back with clutch singles matches.
Ryan Murphy ’05 and Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 both competed through personal illness, head coach Alex Dorato said. Murphy combatted bronchitis after battling the flu last week.
“Both [Murphy and Rosenfeld] decided to give it their best shot,” Dorato said. “They realized we probably weren’t going to win if they didn’t play.”
Dorato said the Bulldogs rely on strong doubles play, and losing that point early in the match made the Elis realize their backs were against the wall.
“I don’t know the exact figures, but usually the team that wins the doubles goes on to win the match, 80 to 85 percent of the time,” Dorato said.
Rowan Reynolds ’06 won the sixth singles match against the Scarlet Knights that clinched victory for the Bulldogs.
“At least this year, whenever we’ve lost the doubles point, we’ve lost the match,” Reynolds said.
The victory was a personal triumph for Reynolds, who has struggled lately. And as a freshman in a top singles slot, he felt more pressure to produce than in past months.
“Earlier in the year, I was just as happy to play doubles,” Reynolds said. “Obviously now, it’s more pressure, and my role is a little bit bigger — but wherever I can contribute is where I want to play.”
The meet against the Navy Midshipmen went very differently. The Bulldogs won all but one match in straight sets. The exception came with Murphy, who was defeated 4-6, 5-7 by Navy’s Cameron Lickle.
“According to the Navy coach, the other kid had his best day ever,” Dorato said. “The other thing was that the umpire made a ruling that was actually against the rules.”
In college tennis, individual players can contest their opponents’ calls by appealing to the umpire, who can either affirm the original call or overrule it. If the protesting player is overruled three times, he is penalized a point for bad sportsmanship.
Dorato said not only had Murphy contested a call the umpire should have overruled, but it was only his second protest. But the umpire penalized him at a spot that decided a crucial game of the first set. Dorato said psychologically, it is hard to come back from that kind of blow.
“The umpire clearly did not know the rules,” Dorato said. “I didn’t let him leave without letting him know about it.”
But the bad call did not stop the Bulldogs from defeating the Midshipmen in their final tune-up before spring break. The Elis next take on Loyola Marymount March 12. Dorato hopes to keep his full roster healthy.
Last week, the Bulldogs suffered from illness and injury. Johnny Lu ’05, Milosz Gudzowski ’06 and David Goldman ’04 endured various ailments that forced them out of an Army meet, which Yale lost 5-2. Against Rutgers, all three were back in the starting rotation.
“[Loyola] is a very good team,” Dorato said. “This will be our first time outside. We’ll actually spend about four days practicing outside, to try to get used to that outside environment.”