The doubles team of Josh Lederman ’09 and Calvin Bennett ’11 led the way for the men’s tennis team in New York this past weekend.
Lederman and Bennett in the doubles bracket, as well as Connor Dawson ’10 in singles ‘B’ flight, gave impressive performances during an otherwise disappointing showing for the Elis at the Columbia Classic in New York. The pair reached the semifinals after a notable quarterfinal victory over Columbia’s Bogdan Borta and Justin Chow, who are ranked No. 1 in the Northeast and 20th in the nation.
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Going into the match, the duo felt optimistic of their chances against such a formidable opponent, so long as they controlled the net.
“Our only strategy was to try to dominate the net,” Lederman said. “We knew that if we played well we would have a chance to beat anyone, and in order to do that, we needed to rely on our volleys.”
The pair’s net play served them well, as they defeated their opponents in a decisive tiebreak to earn a 9-8 victory. Lederman and Bennett found themselves in a difficult situation after losing three of the first four tiebreak points. They swung the momentum back to their side, winning the next point.
“We got down to an early 3-1 deficit, then played some solid tennis and rallied back to take the tiebreaker,” Lederman said.
In the singles ‘B’ flight, Dawson made an impressive run to the semifinals after defeating Loic Sessageesimi of Marist 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 and Kevin Kung of Columbia 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. Although the two three-set matches would usually pose a major problem for most players, captain Rory Green ’08 cited Dawson’s stamina at the end of matches as a major reason for his success.
“Connor is a great competitor,” said Green. “When he gets to the end of a match, he usually finishes off his opponent.”
Green also noted the team’s brutal practice schedule, which has them practicing from nine to 11 at night, as an issue that the team has been dealing with. Since the regular courts in the Cullman-Heyman Center are under construction, the team has been playing on temporary courts for the time being. Green said the cold night temperatures are a major problem the team has been contending with at the temporary courts.
“Although this situation is not ideal,” Green said, “these are the conditions we’ve been given by Yale Athletics.”
Despite the team’s minor struggles this past weekend and the tricky home court situation, both Green and ‘A’ flight singles player Mike Caldwell ’09 described the team’s mood as positive.
The captain said he was pleased with his team’s effort, even if they did not get the results they were hoping for.
“No one played to the maximum of their potential,” Green said. “It was a good team effort, though. I have never seen the effort, attitude and enthusiasm this high during my four years at Yale.”
Bennett mentioned some minor injures as the only potential setback the team may face going into the Ivy League Season, which begins in early April. The Bulldogs will return to action when they host St. John’s on Feb. 8.
“Everybody is pretty happy with where we are at this point in the season,” Caldwell said. “We have two weeks before our next match, including a few days rest, so we’re hoping to peak at the right time for the beginning of the Ivy League season.”