This year’s men’s tennis team put together a solid season behind a mix of resiliency, talented rookies and experienced veterans. Unfortunately, the Elis’ bid for a happy ending was foiled by a familiar foe — the doubles point.
The Bulldogs (11-9, 4-3 Ivy) lost a tight match 4-3 at No. 70 Brown (19-9, 6-1) to wrap up their season yesterday. While the Elis were able to win just as many singles matches as their opponents from Providence, the Bulldogs were absolutely dominated in doubles competition. None of the three Yale pairings was able to win more than three games.
Both the No. 2 team of Brandon Wai ’07 and Mike Caldwell ’09 and the No. 3 team of Milosz Gudzowski ’06 and Chris Lawler ’07 fell, 8-3. Yale’s top pairing of Rowan Reynolds ’06 and Rory Green ’08 fared slightly worse, losing 8-2.
“To lose all three doubles sets handily was tough to take,” Caldwell said. “We had a shot to beat them. Conditions weren’t to our liking. It was really windy, but we can’t blame a lot on that. Everybody fought their hearts out.”
The Elis got support in singles from the usual suspects. In a matchup of nationally-ranked athletes, No. 85 Wai took the first set from No. 101 Dan Hanegby with relative ease 6-2 before dropping the next set 4-6. But the junior star rebounded to take a tiebreaker 8-6 to win the match.
Gudzowski, playing at No. 2, continued his string of impressive play in recent weeks to finish his Yale career. The senior gave up only two games in a dominating win over Brown’s Basudev Ratnam 6-2, 6-0.
“He’s a great elemental player,” Reynolds said. “He plays really well in the wind, and [yesterday] was a great example of that. [Ratnam} has a big serve and [Gudzowski] took that weapon away from him. It’s definitely a good way to finish up.”
Gudzowski said he was pleased with his performance despite the overall team loss.
“I was playing as well as I have ever played,” he said. “I played a guy who didn’t move as well, and I tried to take full advantage of that. He hurt himself at the end of the first set, and then in the second set he sort of caved in.”
The third and final Yale point came at No. 4, where Caldwell posted a rollercoaster victory. The freshman lost a first-set tiebreaker, then took the second set in dominant 6-0 fashion, and finally won with a 10-8 third-set tiebreaker.
“I played pretty well,” Caldwell said. “He had a counter-punch style. The first game was really close, and we broke each other’s serves a lot. But I knew he was getting tired, so I was confident I could get him in the second and third sets.”
But none of the other three singles matches offered much in the way of drama. The closest contest came at No. 6, where Reynolds rebounded from dropping the first set 6-1 to force a second-set tiebreaker. But Brown’s Sam Garland took that tiebreaker easily, with a score of 7-2.
Jeff Dawson ’09 lost the No. 3 match 6-4, 6-1, and Green lost the No. 5 contest 6-4, 6-3.
With their victory, Brown clinches a share of the 2006 Ivy League title. The Bears will play No. 45 Penn, the other Ancient Eight co-champion, on Sunday for the Ivy bid to the NCAA tournament. Brown won the conference outright last year and lost 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to then-No. 26 Ohio State.
Yesterday’s contest marked the final appearances of seniors Gudzowski and Reynolds.