The Army may be able to protect our country, but no one can protect Cullman Courts better than the men’s tennis team.

After losing to Army last year, the Bulldogs came out strong to claim a 6-1 victory Friday, over a squad that has recently defeated some of the top-100 teams in the country, including Florida State and Princeton. Winning all but two matches, the Elis proved that their conditioning and practicing has certainly paid off.

“I was pleased, but not surprised by how the match went,” No. 1 singles player Ryan Murphy ’05 said. “I knew we had a challenge. [Army has] been playing some really great tennis recently. Milosz [Gudzowski ’06] got hurt a day before the match and he’d been playing the best tennis of his life in the past week. And Andrew [Rosenfeld ’04] has been having problems with his tricep. But we all got pretty prepared and pumped up to play. We definitely had last year in the back of our minds also.”

Despite Rosenfeld’s tricep injury, he and Rowan Reynolds ’06 were able to easily defeat Rafael Albornoz and John Sabia at No. 1 doubles (8-4). Murphy and Brandon Wai ’07 also took their doubles match without much difficulty (8-2).

“We started out really well,” Wai said. “[Murphy] is really experienced in his duel matches, and he got me pumped up in the beginning. We played well and it ended up being pretty good.”

The duo triumphed individually as well. Murphy crushed Sabia, 6-1, 6-0. Despite the Black Knight’s power, stature and impressive record, Murphy overcame him with speed and smart playing, according to teammate Neil Tolaney ’04.

“I was especially impressed with the way that Ryan was able to dismantle John Sabia’s game,” Tolaney said.Ê”[Sabia] is an extremely solid player, and Ryan made things look easy out there.”

Murphy accredits much of his victory to his return.

“[Sabia’s] strongest shot is his serve, and I was returning really well,” Murphy said. “He got pretty down on himself once I took away his best shot. I was pretty comfortable and confident out there.”

At No. 3 singles, Wai was also off the court quickly, giving up only five games to his opponent (6-1, 6-4).

“I respected the guy I played,” Wai said. “He’s had pretty good results [this season] so I tried to go out and get off to a good start. I think that helped a lot.”

At No. 2 singles, Rosenfeld battled through a three-set match to win 7-5, 6-7, 6-3. The match proved to be arduous, as many of his points were long baseline rallies. Because of his injury, Rosenfeld has not been practicing as hard as the rest of the team, and could not use some of his strongest suits.

“One of his main weapons is his serve, and with his injury he can’t serve as well,” Chris Lawler ’07 said. “That throws the rest of his game off, so he has to compensate in other ways and that can be tough. It would have been easy for him to say he couldn’t play and we would have had to change the whole lineup, but [Rosenfeld] put the team first and played and he was able to come up with a victory.”

Rosenfeld’s doubles partner, Reynolds, also fought through a tough match at No. 4 singles, losing the first set 5-7. Reynolds picked up game in the next two sets, crushing his opponent with his put aways at the net and prevailing in the second and third sets, 6-4, 6-2.

But Reynolds said he was most impressed by Johnny Lu ’05 at No. 5 singles, who won in quick straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.

“[Lu] hasn’t played very much since last year due to injury so the way he came out and clinched the match was a nice thing to see,” Reynolds said.

The Bulldogs will spend this week preparing for their match against Navy Feb. 28. Nevertheless, judging by the Eli’s performance against Army, next weekend should not prove to be too difficult.

“We beat Army even with Milosz’s sprained ankle and Rosenfeld’s [injury],” Lawler said. “We beat them pretty handily and they’re a good team. It shows that we have a lot of potential and hopefully we can convert that into winning the Ivy League.”