Despite freezing winds and a missing starter, the men’s tennis team posted an admirable finish over the weekend in the Boise State Invitational in Boise, Idaho.
The Bulldogs placed fourth out of a pack of seven teams, capping their slew of spring break matches in California. Their finish in the tournament followed successive losses over the past week, which sunk the Elis to a season record of 5-8.
“We played some really good teams,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “We got what we wanted out of spring break.”
Dorato said he was happy with the team’s performance in the tournament, especially in light of being shorthanded because of captain Rory Green’s ’08 having to sit out after a back injury in California.
“I watched all the matches, and the team competed very well,” Green said. “But the weather didn’t make for very pretty tennis.”
Green said that having to sit out a starter is difficult especially because the doubles partnerships must shift and the athletes are each used to playing with particular teammates.
Spanning Friday and Saturday, the Boise State Invitational featured seven colleges: host No. 35 Boise State, Ball State, Georgia State, Portland, Nevada, No. 65 Wichita State and Yale.
Dorato said he was proud of the team for raising its level of play to counter Green’s absence as well as the harsh 30-degree Boise winds.
“We played in everything — sun, wind, cold,” he said. “The conditions were really tough.”
Caldwell also mentioned the difficult weather: “It was freezing cold … It was snowing during our warm-up against Portland.”
But despite the weather in the first round Friday, the Bulldogs easily upset the University of Portland (6-6-1), 4-1, with straight-set wins at No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 singles.
“Portland is not a very deep team,” Caldwell said. “We beat them soundly.”
Connor Dawson ’10 battled for a 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 3 while No. 4 Calvin Bennett ’11 cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Portland’s Bryan Thorp. Matt Schimmel ’10 posted a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over his opponent at No. 5, and Josh Lederman ’09 continued recent successes with a 6-0, 6-4 decision.
The Elis entered the second round with confidence and stamina.
In the semifinals of the tournament later in the day, Yale lost, 4-0, to nationally ranked Boise State (13-10). After dropping the doubles point, a match at No. 1 between Jeff Dawson ’09 and No. 60 Clancy Shields of the Broncos, and singles matches at No. 5 and 6, Yale admitted defeat. The remainder of the matches posted no result.
The win continued the Broncos’ success in the tournament: They had beaten Georgia State in their first-round match in an unforgiving 4-0 decision. Boise State would go on to win the tournament, beating Wichita State in the final round Saturday.
“They were a better team than us,” Dorato said.
Saturday, the Elis battled Brigham Young University (12-6) for third place but came up short on a few key points, losing 5-2. The Bulldogs found themselves on the wrong sides of a 9-7 decision at No. 2 doubles and a third-set tiebreaker at No. 2 singles, wins that would have altered the match’s final results.
“It was very close in the doubles point,” Caldwell noted. “We should have started stronger, winning doubles … then some of that momentum would have carried over into the singles matches.”
Bennett and Lederman posted the sole wins for Yale — triumphing together at No. 1 doubles, 8-6, and individually in their singles matches at the No. 4 and 6 positions, respectively.
Bennett edged past BYU’s Daniel Hwang, 6-2, 7-5. Lederman battled back after losing his first set in a tiebreaker to capture solid 6-1, 6-2 victories in his second and third sets.
“Josh Lederman played really well,” Dorato said. “He had a really good spring break in general.”
In other singles action, Caldwell lost in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, to BYU’s Jonathan Sanchez at the No. 1 spot, while Jeff Dawson took his opponent into a third-set tiebreaker but could not secure the win at No. 2.
The Bulldogs play at home in Woodbrige, Conn., against the Manhattan Jaspers at noon Saturday.