The rookie Bulldogs on the Yale men’s tennis team proved they can compete at the collegiate level this weekend at the Cornell Invitational in Ithaca, NY.
Captain Erik Blumenkranz ’12 showed the younger players, Patrick Chase ’14, Zachary Dean ’14, Kyle Dawson ’14, Daniel Faierman ’15 and Matt Saiontz ’15, the ropes of tournament play.
Even though Cornell had an undefeated season last year, the Bulldogs managed to come away with some victories this weekend without four of their top players – John Huang ’13, Daniel Hoffman ’13, Marc Powers ’13, and Joel Samaha ’12 – who played in the All-American Tournament in Tulsa, Okla. during the week. Blumenkranz played in both tournaments. All five of the Bulldogs won their first round tournaments in Tulsa.
On Saturday, Yale bested Binghamton in singles and doubles, but lost to Cornell, last year’s Ivy League Champions, in singles. On the second day, Yale defeated Cornell in doubles and defeated Army in singles, but lost to Army in doubles.
“Overall, I think the team did well,” Dean said. “We were without the top few guys this weekend, but the guys that traveled seemed ready to step up into bigger roles.”
Saiontz stepped up during day one and won all three of his matches, including two straight set single wins playing at No. 6.
“My playing style is very aggressive, so I put as much pressure on my opponent as possible, and let him crack,” Saiontz said. “It worked out well.”
Saiontz added that the energy of his teammates, which amplified throughout the six indoor courts, was very encouraging.
Dean said the fall season is a useful time for the team to prepare both mentally and physically for conference match play in the spring. He added that because Blumenkranz, Dawson, and Chase will be at Cornell again next weekend for the USTA/ITA Regional Championships, this weekend was a great opportunity to get used to the Cornell courts.
“The Cornell courts are really fast and the lighting makes it pretty tough to track the ball if you are not used to it,” Dean said.
Dean won two of his three matches on both day one and day two.
On the second day, Faierman was the standout player, winning all three of his matches, including a straight set win at No. 3 singles.
“My goal this year is just to help out the team in any way that I can, playing as many games as needed,” said Faierman.
The Bulldogs will return to Ithaca on Thursday to begin the USTA/ITA Regional Championships.