After a weekend of intense play that left the men’s tennis team weary, the Bulldogs may have been happy to get back to writing papers and doing reading for class.
The Elis headed to New York City last weekend for the Columbia Classic, one of the first competitions of the year. Although the Bulldogs played well at times, injuries limited the team’s ability to compete. Brandon Wai ’07, Yale’s top player and No. 33 in the nation, was one of the injured players who most affected the team’s performance.
Wai is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained last fall. Because of that, he only played doubles and did not compete in the singles matches. But Wai said he will probably play this coming weekend.
“I am not completely fit right now — about 80 percent, but I can play,” Wai said. “I’m a little slow and can’t move as well as I did, but I’m doing all I can to get back to where I was.”
Wai teamed up with Josh Lederman ’09, and the duo made it to the doubles final, where they faced Columbia’s Jimmy and Martin Moore. In the final, after playing an extremely close game, the Elis fell, 8-6, to the Lions.
The other doubles team also had to deal with an injury. The team of Rory Green ’08 and Chris Lawler ’07 fell to Columbia’s Jared Drucker and Dan Urban, 8-5. Green had hurt his hand towards the end of the match but decided to finish despite his injury.
“Considering this was only our second or third match together, we played alright,” Lawler said. “Columbia’s team was very strong. It got tough to pull it out in the end, but it was a great experience. Matches like that, even if you don’t win, make you better in the long run.”
Green’s injury also caused him to pull out of the singles quarterfinals. After ousting St. John’s Morgan Bauer, 6-3, 6-4, he was not able to face Columbia’s Jonathan Chan and returned to Yale for an x-ray.
Fortunately for Green, the x-ray results were encouraging, and he was back at practice Monday. He said he will play in the team’s next match, in North Carolina.
“It looked pretty bad,” said Green. “I could barely hold the racket and we were pushed to the wire.”
Green’s usual doubles partner, Rowan Reynolds ’06, was also missing in action due to injury but has been declared fit to play soon.
Besides the frustrating string of injured players, the healthy Elis achieved some good results. Second seed Milosz Gudzowski ’06 fell to Columbia’s Jimmy Moore, 6-7(1), 7-6(4), 6-1, after a hard-fought match. But Gudzowski secured victory in the A consolation finals by overcoming Dan Wynne of FDU, 7-6(3), 7-6(9).
The freshmen may have been the highlight of the weekend, though. Lederman made it to the semifinal round in the B flight singles, where he was defeated by Columbia’s Dan Urban, 6-2, 6-3. Tom Santoro ’09 lost to Alex Svetlakou of St. John’s, 6-3, 6-4, in the B consolation finals.
Michael Caldwell ’09 gave fourth-seeded David Nylen of St. John’s a run for his money. Caldwell dropped the first set, but came back to win the second set before losing, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6).
Jeff Dawson ’09 also competed at the Columbia Classic and lost to No. 1 seed Zoltan Bus of Manhattan College.
Lawler had only good things to say about the Class of 2009.
“The freshmen are exceptional players,” Lawler said. “Every single one of them gives 100 percent at practice every day. They’re an inspiration to the older guys.”
The Bulldogs return to action in North Carolina, where they will match up with UNC on Saturday and North Carolina State on Sunday. Wai said the team is looking forward to the chance to play tough competitors down south.
“This weekend’s going to give us an opportunity to beat two very good teams,” Wai said. “We just need to go in there, do our thing, and give 100 percent. Coming out with a couple victories will do some good for our confidence.”