Though Rowan Reynolds ’06 finished his freshman year as a varsity tennis player with the Bulldogs having lost more matches than they won, he can at least take comfort in the Elis’ improvement from last year.
The Bulldogs finished the spring 3-4 in the Ivy League and 8-10 overall, a marked improvement on last year’s winless Ivy season. Last week’s 6-1 loss to Harvard and 4-2 win over Dartmouth sealed the year shut for the Elis.
The Crimson match, which took place at home last Wednesday, started well for the Bulldogs. No. 2 doubles team Reynolds and Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 combined with No. 3 Andrew Arons ’05 and Milosz Gudzowski ’06 to secure the doubles point for Yale, both winning by narrow margins, 9-8. But the Elis failed to compete successfully in the singles matches, losing most contests in straight sets.
Reynolds said despite the supportive home-crowd atmosphere, Harvard simply outplayed the Bulldogs.
“I had my posse out there, a whole group of people just going nuts,” Reynolds said. “But [there were] blustery conditions, and they just kicked our butt in singles.”
When it came time to face the Dartmouth Big Green two days later, Reynolds said, the Elis were aiming not only to assuage their anger at falling to the Cantabs, but also to avenge last year’s loss to the Big Green. In 2002, the Dartmouth game was the final losing nail in the Bulldogs’ 0-7 coffin.
The Big Green picked up two points against Yale last Friday in Hanover when senior Neal Bobba defeated Ryan Murphy ’05 7-6, 6-0 and when junior Borko Kereshi defeated Reynolds 6-2, 7-5. The Bulldogs won the doubles point, and the No. 6 singles match did not finish.
Over the course of the season, the Elis won the doubles point in 11 of their 19 matches, and among those 11, went on to win the match seven times. The team went 6-3 at home and 2-8 on the road, including an 0-4 trip during spring break to California.
Reynolds said one reason the Bulldogs didn’t win more games was the number of injuries and illnesses, which especially proved to be a problem for the California matches.
At one point, an epidemic of influenza incapacitated several Bulldogs as others were recovering from injuries: Murphy from a back injury, David Goldman ’04 from a stomach problem, and Johnny Lu ’05 from a sprained ankle. Subsequently, Lu sustained a wrist injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Lu said it was disappointing for him to sit out the entire Ivy League season because of how much better the Bulldogs were this year than last.
“We had lots of energy this year,” Lu said. “We were a much closer team — and we had a lot of team spirit.”
Lu injured a tendon on the socket of his wrist, an injury that takes six weeks to fully heal. He experimented with playing with a wrist brace, but his doctor decided it was not worth the risk.
But the injuries weren’t really to blame for the Elis’ losing record, Lu said.
“We can’t use [injuries] as an excuse for losses that we could have won,” he said. “Our reserves are just as good; the only reason they may have lost is they didn’t have the experience.”
With last year’s abysmal record in mind, Reynolds said, the Bulldogs’ 3-4 record is quite impressive, despite the Eli’s original goal of winning the Ivies.
“To go 3-4 is a hell of an accomplishment, and next year is the year we’ll go all the way,” Reynolds said.