Missing veterans and injuries could not stop the Yale men’s tennis team this weekend as it put on a strong show, displaying intensity and depth in its line-up.
The Bulldogs participated in the Army Invitational in West Point, N.Y., sweeping the field by winning all six singles matches on each day. On Saturday, the Elis were 6-0 in singles against Army, dropping only one set, and went 3-3 in the doubles against Cornell. They improved upon this on Sunday, with all six players winning their singles matches against Cornell in straight sets and winning all three doubles match-ups against Army.
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Playing in the No. 1 singles position for Yale was Michael Caldwell ’09, who beat Cornell’s John Fife, 6-2, 6-4 Sunday and Army’s Michael Good 7-6, 6-0 Saturday.
“The team is definitely happy with this weekend’s results,” Caldwell said. “Even though Cornell and Army didn’t have their best teams, neither did we, and we still won convincingly. If anything, this weekend showcased our depth.”
The Bulldogs were missing captain Brandon Wai ’07 who was not playing because of an NCAA rule concerning the maximum number of matches played by a single player. Wai won his exhibition match Saturday.
“This weekend was a promising glimpse of what lies ahead for Yale tennis in the Ivy League,” Josh Lederman ’09 said. “The team is feeling both physically and emotionally ready to compete against the top players in the region. Even Brandon Wai seems physically recovered from a fall season hampered by illnesses.”
Also missing in action was Chris Lawler ’07, who was unable to make the event due to job interviews, and Rory Green ’08, who was out with a back injury. Despite the lack of experienced veterans in the starting lineup, the Elis managed to pull off a stellar performance.
Caldwell said the freshmen showed solidarity by stepping up to the plate in the absence of key players.
“It was a little difficult because Lawler was unable to make it,” Caldwell said. “But I still think our doubles lineup from the previous tournaments will remain the same. We just need to continue to fine tune our doubles skills.”
Tom Santoro ’09 and Caldwell teamed up to win three doubles matches over the course of the weekend. Even though the Elis’ overall play in doubles showed improvement over the course of the tournament, players said the combinations were not yet finalized.
Santoro said he was pleased with the way the Bulldogs performed this weekend.
“I feel like I’m playing pretty well,” Santoro said. “The hard work is paying off for everyone on the team. Our practices have been going well and our focus has been on our doubles, which went quite well this weekend. We won six out of our nine matches, which was good, and we used a lot of our coach’s advice.”
The Elis travel to Philadelphia this coming weekend to play in the ITA Regional Championships, which run from Oct. 19 to Oct. 24.
“This last weekend was a good warm-up for the upcoming regionals,” Jeff Dawson ’09 said. “It gave the guys a chance to get their rhythm and go into this weekend very confident. We expect a strong showing at the regionals and anticipate finishing the fall season with a bang.”