Fresh from a spring break training trip to San Diego, the men’s tennis team had a chance to test their practiced moves on home territory.
Despite an unexpected change of venue and the absence of any upperclassmen from the Elis’ lineup, the Bulldogs (5-7) defeated the Stony Brook Seawolves (4-6), 6-1, on Wednesday afternoon at the Cullman Center.
Michael Caldwell ’09 and Jeff Dawson ’09 won in straight sets at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively. At No. 3 singles, Connor Dawson ’10 pulled out a victory in three sets after winning in the third with a commanding 6-1 advantage. Josh Lederman ’09 eked by opponent Alex Markovich at No. 5 singles 5-7, 7-5, 1-0 (10-7). Tom Santoro ’09 crushed his opponent at No. 6 singles, blanking Eugene Tsarevskiy 6-0, 6-0.
The game was originally scheduled to be played outside, but when conditions became too windy, the team headed into the Cullman Center. As play got under way, Rory Green ’07, who was sidelined because of injury, said he suspected that all the doubles teams would have trouble adjusting to the indoor courts after having played two weeks outdoors under the Californian sun. But Connor Dawson, who teamed up with Caldwell at No. 2 doubles, said the team was prepared for the last-minute switch.
“We played inside once when we came back [from California], so it wasn’t that bad,” Dawson said.
After an initial slow start, Caldwell and Connor Dawson picked up their performances, with Caldwell turning around the points for Yale with a powerful topspin serve. The rest of the match followed suit and the Eli duo handed opponents Ilan Shvartz and Quirijin Van Veen an 8-6 defeat.
Santoro and Matt Schimmel ’10 led the Bulldogs with an 8-3 defeat of Youssef Fassi-Fehri and Zack Smith.
Likewise, Lederman, whom teammates call a “savvy player,” began to show some court craft with his dropshots over the net. Lederman and his partner, Jeff Dawson, started to win points at No. 1 doubles as their flustered opponents could respond only with weak pickup volleys. They defeated Nihal Advani and Markovich 8-5.
“Pirate’s [Lederman’s] win today inspired us all to go out and make a bid for the Ivy title.” Connor Dawson said.
Resting from injuries over the break, Green and captain Brandon Wai ’07 watched from the sidelines.
“Sophomores form a very important part of this team, and the freshmen are still fighting hard in this spirit,” Green said. “They won this match for us.”
The team said they regard this match against Stony Brook and an upcoming one against Manhattan as relaxed warm-ups before beginning Ivy League play, Wai said. But he still emphasized the importance of these last two matches in building morale for their April 6 conference opener at home against Penn.
“Stony Brook is a tough team and we defeated them pretty handily,” Wai said. “This definitely gives us confidence going into our Ivy season.”
Jeff Dawson is happy about the momentum the team has gained from this game and said he feels ready going off into Ivy season.
The team looks forward to — and expects supportive spectators at — this Saturday’s home game against Manhattan at 12:00 p.m. The match will be the last of Yale’s non-Ivy season and then the Bulldogs will head off to compete with Penn and Princeton the following Friday and Saturday.