Stepping up as the only two seniors on the team, Dan Arellano ’04, back for his first match since September, and Neil Tolaney ’04, sick with the flu, pulled through to lead the men’s tennis team to a 5-2 victory over Navy.
After a nine-hour bus ride to Annapolis, Md. Friday night, the Bulldogs came out strong against the Midshipmen, winning all but two doubles matches and one singles match. The victory against Navy is all the more impressive because of the changes in the Eli lineup — neither Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 nor Milosz Gudzowski ’06, usual starters, competed.
“I think Saturday’s match was a good reflection on how we have really tried to work on the depth of our team especially this year,” Tolaney said. “Even with two consistent starters out of the line-up, we were able to — come away with a solid win.”
Though struggling with doubles matches, the Bulldogs were able to pull out one win at No. 1. Ryan Murphy ’05 and Brandon Wai ’07 defeated their Midshipmen opponents, but because Yale’s other two duos lost, Navy garnered the doubles point. Unaccustomed to playing together, Rowan Reynolds ’06 and Johnny Lu ’05 fell to the Mids 8-5, while the improving doubles team of Chris Lawler ’07 and Tolaney succumbed after a strong match, losing 8-6.
But the Bulldogs played strong singles matches to get the team win and improve Yale’s overall record to 6-2. At No. 1 singles, Murphy once again battled through a difficult first set and crushed his opponent in the second.
“In the second set, Ryan just blew [his opponent] away,” Lawler said. “They had some pretty great points.”
Wai, No. 2 singles, and Reynolds, No. 3 singles, each played strong matches. Reynolds wrestled through three sets and Wai finished off his adversary in two. Lu grappled with a tough match and was not able to eke out a win, although teammates note that his performance was solid and admirable.
Tolaney and Arellano played wonderful tennis to clinch the Eli victory.
“Since both of us are facing the unfortunate prospect of leaving come this May, we are really enjoying this last semester of playing competitively,” Tolaney said.
Competing on a back court, Arellano proved that nerves of the first match back do not always inhibit playing. After leading 5-2, his opponent came back and took Arellano to a tie-breaker. But Arellano held the Mid back, and propelled himself to a win.
Arellano, however, was most impressed with the Bulldogs’ behavior as a whole in Maryland.
“I’m mostly proud of how the team behaved this weekend,” he said. “Even after losing the doubles point, we were confident in our ability to win and everyone did so without belittling our opponent and showing great sportsmanship.”
The Mids were a good practice opponent for the Elis, who face nationally ranked No. 58 New Mexico Thursday.
“If we want to be nationally ranked, it’s a must-win,” Lawler said.
Tolaney is banking on the strength of this weekend’s performance to help the Bulldogs destroy the Lobos.
“Hopefully we can take this momentum we have now and carry it into our match against New Mexico on Thursday,” Tolaney said. “We will be juiced for that.”