Split between Tulsa, Ok., and Providence, R.I., the men’s tennis team played in difficult tournaments meant to prepare the Bulldogs for the Ivy League season. Although captain Jeff Dawson ’09 and Mike Caldwell ’09 lost in their matches in the national All-American tournament, the other eight Elis fought toward a handful of victories at the Brown Invitational, with particular success in doubles play. The Bulldogs will play next in the ITA Northeast Regional Championships Oct. 16-21, hosted in New Haven.
The team’s Nos. 1 and 2 players, Dawson and Caldwell flew south with head coach Alex Dorato to complete in the pre-qualifying rounds of the D’Novo Men’s All-American Championships in Tulsa. The Bulldogs have not sent a player to the national tournament since 2006, when then-captain and No. 1 Brandon Wai ’07 played in the main draw.
Following a bye in the first round, Dawson was eliminated in the second round by Dmitry Lededev of Arkansas, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Caldwell, seeded No. 32 in the tournament, accepted byes in both the first and second rounds. In the third round, played on Saturday, Caldwell lost to Artem Borodach of SMU, 6-4, 6-4.
Caldwell cited the windy conditions and a general sense of not being able to move well as his downfalls in the match.
“While I certainly wish we could have gotten more matches,” Caldwell said, “it was good just to be at a national tournament, seeing a different type of competition and being among different players. I will certainly take a few lessons from the tournament which I think will be beneficial down the road.”
The tournament featured only a handful of Ivy League athletes: the two Elis, one player from Harvard, three from Princeton and two from Columbia. Two years ago, current professional tennis star John Isner, then representing Georgia, lost in the singles finals of the tournament.
Traveling with assistant coach Christian Appleman, the rest of the Elis competed in the Bruno Classic Brown Invitational in Providence against players from Brown, Binghamton and Boston College. Matches spanned three days, with play shortened Sunday because of rain.
“The level of competition was fierce,” Calvin Bennett ’11 said Monday, “a little too fierce at times, but all in all will help to prepare us for the season.”
On Friday, the Bulldogs posted wins in doubles against Binghamton duos, riding to victory at the hands of Josh Lederman ’09 and Joel Samaha ’12, who won 8-5, and Jordan Abergel ’11 and Tom Santoro ’09, who won in a shutout, 8-0.
In singles play, Samaha and Abergel won in straight sets, while Matt Schimmel ’10 defeated Darren Ng of Binghamton, 8-5.
Brown head coach Jay Harris commended Samaha’s run in the tournament, citing the freshman’s 2-1 streak against his singles players.
Bennett, Santoro, Ryan Berman ’11, Connor Dawson ’10 and Lederman lost their singles matches in straight sets. Erik Blumenkranz ’12 split sets with Binghamton’s Evan Algier before dropping the tiebreaker.
Binghamton head coach Adam Cohen said he was proud of Algier for beating such a “good player” from Yale.
The following day, Bennett lost in a tiebreaker after splitting sets with Brown’s John Pearlman, 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (8). The Elis posted their only singles win on Saturday with Samaha’s 6-3, 6-0 victory over Sam Garland of Brown.
In doubles, the Bulldogs earned wins over the Bears by Lederman and Bennett, 8-6, and by Berman and Blumenkranz, 8-3. The remaining partnerships — the players competed round-robin style in eight matchups — lost narrowly.
On the final day, Connor Dawson and Bennett won, 8-5, in a doubles match against Binghamton. Santoro and Blumenkranz clinched a hard-fought match, 9-8 (8), also over Binghamton.
Schimmel was the only Eli to win in a singles match Sunday, cruising to a 6-1 victory over freshman Ted Chakos of Binghamton.