If the Yale men’s tennis team took anything away from its matches this weekend, it is that you cannot underestimate anyone, no matter how they have fared in the past.
The Bulldogs lost 5-2 on the road to both Princeton and University of Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Yale lost the doubles point both days, and only No. 5 Milosz Gudzowski ’06 had consecutive wins. The losses came as a huge disappointment to the Elis, who thought the weekend would not prove to be much of a challenge, especially considering that the Bulldogs beat Princeton last season.
“I thought we could have played better,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “[Penn and Princeton] were very hard losses because I did think that we could win both of those.”
There were some outside factors that could have affected Yale’s performance. The weekend began at 7 a.m. on Friday with a three-hour-long bus ride to Princeton and continued as the tired Elis battled through two consecutive matches. But still Dorato believes these factors do not justify what happened.
“There are no excuses,” he said. “We just didn’t play as well as we needed to.”
The Tigers fronted a stronger team than last year, taking all three of the doubles matches. The Elis are still grasping for winning doubles combinations.
“We’ve been struggling with doubles,” Ryan Murphy ’05 said. “We’re just trying to get a fresh start and put anything together that works.”
Dorato veered from his regular No. 1 and No. 2 doubles spots. Instead of placing Murphy and Brandon Wai ’07 at the top slot, Dorato chose Murphy and Rowan Reynolds. At the second position, Dorato replaced his normal pair of Andrew Rosenfeld ’04 and Reynolds with Rosenfeld and Wai.
“Andrew [Rosenfeld] and I have had a lot of success and I haven’t played with Ryan [Murphy] as much,” Reynolds said. “He has a different type of game. I think only time will tell [if the new teams work]. I just hope that we can get the right combination to get us a doubles point. If that means I play with Andrew the next match or I continue to play with Ryan, it’s all fine with me.”
The No. 3 doubles team, which has certainly seen the most shuffling so far this year, is now Dan Arellano ’04 and captain Dave Goldman ’04, who recently stepped back onto the courts after an injury.
The only doubles success all weekend came from an 8-6 No. 1 win against the Quakers.
In singles, the Elis were more victorious, but inconsistency deterred them from any momentous results.
No. 4 Reynolds and No. 5 Gudzowski each stared into the eye of the Tiger and won, 6-3, 6-2 and 7-5, 6-2, respectively. No. 2 Rosenfeld, No. 3 Wai, and No. 6 Goldman all fought through long matches, but none resulted in success.
“We had some really tight matches,” Murphy said. “On the road, it’s tough to win those really tight matches. You have to kick your game up and really play at a higher level to beat teams on the road. We played alright but we couldn’t really get it done.”
Gudzowski, along with Murphy, won his second match of the weekend as well.
“Milosz won both of his singles matches,” Dorato said. “He’s won eight matches in a row now. He’s done spectacularly well.”
Somehow, Gudzowski has found what the entire team is desperately searching for — consistency in his playing.
“I just concentrate on my match,” Gudzowski said. “I mean, a lot of the time, I see that courts around me aren’t doing as well, but I try to focus on my match and not think about how other people are doing. It’s really about– not letting outside influence get to you.”
As they prepare to face Cornell and Columbia this weekend at the Cullman Courts, the Bulldogs are hoping that they will play as a unit this weekend.
“It’s been a reoccurring problem the whole year with trying to get guys playing well on the same day,” Reynolds said.
Until Friday, Dorato will keep his players motivated and focused and hope for the best during the next Ivy weekend.
“We want to get everybody back to playing the way they were,” Dorato said. “We need to get into the groove again.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”17751″ ]