The men’s tennis team took the good with the bad during its two matches this weekend.
After falling on Friday to North Carolina State University, 7-0, the Bulldogs defeated Elon University on Saturday, 6-1. Both matches were held in North Carolina, where Elis played on both indoor and outdoor courts and braved 35-40 degree wind chill.
“Playing solid teams far away from home in our first dual matches is an arduous task in itself,” Neil Tolaney ’04 said. “This combined with different surfaces, clay and hard court, and different conditions, indoors and outdoors, just heightened the adversity.”
A slightly shuffled lineup due to a tricep injury suffered by Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 and a rainy day that forced play onto indoor clay courts both contributed into the NCSU Wolfpack’s win.
“It was a bummer for me not to be able to play on Friday,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s tough going and playing a match on indoor clay — you don’t play any matches in college on clay, and we didn’t know about it until a few days before the match. I thought everyone fought pretty hard given the circumstances — there wasn’t anything we could really do.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Murphy ’05 and Brandon Wai ’07 was able to pull off an 8-4 win against Jon Davis and Will Shaw, but that was far from enough to keep the Bulldogs in the game.
Johnny Lu ’05 took Rosenfeld’s spot in No. 2 doubles to play alongside Rowan Reynolds ’06, and the pair lost 8-3. Chris Lawler ’07 and Tolaney also fell to the Wolfpack, 8-4.
At No. 1 singles, Murphy struggled through a three-set match, winning the first set 7-5, losing the second set 7-6 after grappling with six match points, and ultimately stumbling in the third set 7-5.
Wai, playing No. 2 singles, also lost in a tough three-set match (6-7, 7-6, 6-2).
Though NCSU was a tough team, some Elis feel they could have put up a better fight.
“We came out flat from the start of the matches,” Lawler said. “We were tense and not really ready to play. We settled down towards the middle, but it was too late. I know I didn’t play particularly well.”
But head coach Alex Dorato was satisfied with the team’s performance against the talented Wolfpack.
“North Carolina State is a very good team and we had to play on clay, which I don’t think any of our guys have played on since the summer, and some guys haven’t played on it in years — that makes a big difference,” Dorato said. “I was disappointed to lose, but I certainly didn’t feel badly about our performance.”
A night’s rest proved helpful for the Bulldogs. The team rallied on Saturday to defeat Elon, the alma mater of Yale’s assistant coach Joe Roediger. Utterly spoiling the Phoenix’s season opener, the Bulldogs took all but Lu’s No. 6 singles match and Murphy and Wai’s No. 1 doubles match.
Ameliorating the team’s position on Saturday was Rosenfeld’s return to the courts, despite his tricep injury. He joined Reynolds at No. 2 doubles, winning the deciding match for the doubles point.
“[My arm is] feeling good now,” Rosenfeld said. “I just played doubles in second match and I served half speed. I practiced [yesterday] and served so it’s getting better.”
Murphy and Wai had already lost their match, while Lawler and Tolaney defeated their opponents easily, 8-2. Reynolds and Rosenfeld struggled to pull out a win in the eight-game pro set, and finally overpowered Thomas Rohof and Justin Roberson, 9-7.
“It seemed like Elon was about to win, but Rowan [Reynolds] hit amazing shots and pulled it out,” Lawler said.
Three-set matches were the motif for most of the singles battles. At No. 1, losing the second set spurred Murphy to pick up his playing and defeat Pramote Malasitt (6-1, 4-6, 6-0).
“In Ryan’s case, on Friday he played tennis for six hours,” Dorato said. “He warmed up for one hour in the morning, warmed up before the match, played doubles, and then had an over-three-hour singles match. Saturday, he had another three-setter in singles and went 6-0 in the third set. It’s a real tribute to his conditioning.”
Both Reynolds and Tolaney salvaged first set losses by taking the next two sets. Wai and Milosz Gudowski ’06 swept their opponents in straight sets.
Though the Bulldogs fared better against Elon than against NCSU, players said that Elon was no cup of tea.
“They were definitely tough but we played a lot better,” Lawler said.
Dorato agreed that the great disparity between the two team’s scores did not necessarily reflect the level of playing.
“Elon wasn’t as strong as North Carolina State, but I was pleased with the close matches,” Dorato said. “[The Saturday match was the] reverse of Friday — the score is not indicative of how close the matches were. We barely won doubles, and had four three-setters.”
The swingers have a break until their match-up with Army Feb. 20.
“We lost to them last year so we’re out to get revenge,” Dorato said.