Struggling to end its season with a winning Ivy League record, the men’s tennis team went 1-1 this weekend against Dartmouth Friday and Harvard Sunday.
With just one Ivy match left this season, the Bulldogs had high hopes going into this past weekend. The Crimson served up a formidable challenge in Cambridge. Nationally ranked No. 22 Harvard bested the Bulldogs in every match except for a No. 6 singles contest won by Dave Goldman ’04. But Friday was a day of glory for the Bulldogs, who ravaged the Big Green 6-1 in New Haven.
“Dartmouth was the most convincing Ivy victory I’ve been a part of in my two years here so far,” No. 4 singles Rowan Reynolds ’06 said. “We won the doubles point, and everyone pretty much dominated in singles.”
The match began on a high note, as the Elis captured the doubles point, a feat that has eluded the team for most of the season. At No. 2, the strong senior team of Goldman and Andrew Rosenfeld — who recently began playing together for the first time since their sophomore year — demolished Drew Dinkmeyer and Neal Bobba, 8-5.
“It’s really nice to play with [Rosenfeld] since it’s our last year,” Goldman said.
The newest doubles pairing, freshmen Chris Lawler and Brandon Wai, clinched the doubles point for Yale with an 8-5 victory over David Webb and Andres Reyes. In singles, Yale swept up five of the six matches in straight sets. Only Rosenfeld dropped his match, losing in a tie-breaker.
“I thought we played very well against Dartmouth and beat them fairly easily,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “The only point we lost was Andrew, because he had a strained muscle in his stomach and hasn’t been able to practice his serve much — Had he been able to practice harder, I think he would have won also.”
“Harvard quashed us in doubles,” Dorato said. “They just played unbelievably well. In singles, they’re just a little bit better than us — our guys put up pretty good matches.”
Most Elis shared the sentiment that though they could have put up a somewhat better fight, there was no way to face the formidable Crimson.
“It was not pretty and it was not pleasant,” Rosenfeld said.
At No. 1 doubles, Ryan Murphy ’05 and Reynolds put up the best challenge against their Crimson competitors, but eventually fell 8-4. Both of the other pairs lost by wider margins, with Rosenfeld and Goldman failing to take a game, and Lawler and Wai picking up only two games during their match.
Yale fared better in the singles contests, though the Bulldogs only took one match: No. 5 Milosz Gudzowski ’06 almost took the first set and ended up losing 7-5, 6-5. No. 2 Wai also had a chance at the first set, but could not solve Harvard’s Mark Riddell, dropping a 7-5, 6-2 match.
“Against Harvard in general we played alright but to beat them you have to be playing your best tennis,” Gudzowski said. “We weren’t doing quite that — we have to play really well and we have to play a lot of big points to win. Playing them at Harvard makes it even more difficult and more crucial to play well.”
Facing just one more team this season — the nationally ranked No. 55 Brown Bears — the Bulldogs are hoping to end on a high note.
“It would be nice to go out there and pull out a win for the last match and come out of the season with the good feeling, but Brown is just as good as Harvard,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to have to step it up big time if we want to not get whooped again.”
As the season draws to a close, the Bulldogs are somewhat disappointed with its outcome, but feel that they are currently playing their best tennis.
“This year also we played probably the toughest schedule we’ve ever played,” Dorato said. “Out of our 23 matches, probably three-fourths of teams are nationally ranked or were at some point during the year. So our record doesn’t look good but it’s because we were playing great teams. I’m disappointed in that I thought we could have won a few more matches than we did, but overall we’re peaking at the right time.”
Next season brings with it the loss of four key players: Rosenfeld, Goldman, Neil Tolaney ’04 and Dan Arellano ’04. Each has been essential to the success of the team.
“Those four guys who are graduating were pretty big for us,” Reynolds said. “It will be interesting to see how the freshmen perform next year. They’ll probably end up playing a big role on the team.”
Despite the immense loss, the Bulldogs are optimistic for their 2004-2005 season.
“We’ll get a really great team next year, even thought we’re losing some of our best players,” Gudzowski said. “All of us are going to practice hard this summer and be better when next year comes around.”
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