Kicking the spring season into full gear, the men’s tennis team went on the road to Minneapolis this weekend, where they lost to two fierce opponents. The women didn’t rack up quite as many frequent flier miles this weekend, but they had more success as they headed seven exits up I-91 to take on Quinnipiac.
As the Bulldog men resumed dual match competition this weekend, Yale (0-2) was defeated by Drake (1-1) on Saturday and then fell to Minnesota (4-1) on Sunday morning, both by identical scores of 4-3. The women’s team (1-2) faced Quinnipiac (0-1) in Hamden, where they overcame a brief two-game losing streak after dropping meets to Syracuse and Maryland during the last weekend of January.
On the men’s side, the Elis won both doubles matches against Drake, but lost their singles matches at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 at the Baseline Tennis Center. At the No. 1 spot, captain Brandon Wai ’07 battled out a four-hour marathon singles matchup against Drake’s Sergi Vila. Wai, ranked 81st in the nation, ultimately fell to the senior from Spain, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“We went there knowing that both teams would be tough, especially Minnesota,” said Rory Green ’08, who won both of his matches at the No. 4 singles spot. “But we knew that if we competed well we could beat them on their own courts. Unfortunately we narrowly lost out, but we are taking positives out of it. Our doubles showed great improvement and that is something we have put a lot of time into.”
The following morning, Yale fared slightly better against the Golden Gophers, picking up wins at No. 1, 2 and 4 in singles but losing two of their three doubles matches. Despite the loss, the Elis were satisfied with their performance because of the close matches.
“I thought we performed quite well.” Wai said. “The match against Minnesota was close, and they are ranked No. 32. We were within points of beating them. I’m really proud of the way we competed.”
The women’s team started off its spring season in Syracuse, N.Y., on Jan. 26, when the Elis lost to Syracuse, 4-3, and were subsequently defeated by the 32nd-ranked Maryland Terrapins on the next day by an identical 4-3 score. But the Bulldogs showed no signs of weakness this past weekend, completely dominating the Bobcats, 6-1. The victory was an all-around team effort, with the Elis winning all three doubles matchups.
Yale secured victories at the top five spots in the singles, including wins by Janet Kim ’09, captain Olivia Nix ’07 and Christine Alford ’07. The two freshmen on the team, Sarah Lederhandler ’10 and Jessica Rhee ’10, who compete at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, both came out on top in tough encounters.
“We were definitely satisfied with the win especially because [Quinnipiac] played well, and we had some tough matches that went into the third set.” Lindsay Dashiell ’08 said. “But our girls found a way to win — they didn’t get frustrated and stayed with it. The performances were good across the board, and we’re looking forward to all our matches on the calendar. We’re going to try and prepare the same way and play hard.”
One of the benefits of these early season matchups is the ability to evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses before heading into more substantial competition later in the spring.
Men’s team members said that doubles had been one of the areas of concern for them during the fall stretch of the 2006-’07 season, but this weekend’s results make it safe to say that the Bulldogs have made significant improvements in that area. At this stage of the year, there will probably be minimal changes to combinations, provided there are no injuries, Rory Green ’08 said. The Bulldogs will mainly focus on fine-tuning in their upcoming matches.
Up next for the women’s team is a road trip to North Carolina, where they will face Raleigh on Saturday and then move on to Durham, N.C., to play Duke on Sunday.
The men’s side travels next to West Point, N.Y., to play Army on Feb. 10. The Bulldogs are optimistic about their chances against Army and said they were eagerly anticipating the rest of the season.
“We all fought 100 percent, and that’s all you can ask for really.” Michael Caldwell ’08 said. “We need to stay focused for this weekend against Army and not take them lightly. We’re looking forward to the spring — things are looking good right now.”