The Yale men’s tennis team took to the courts over the weekend, playing back-to-back matches on Saturday and Sunday against Fairfield and Iowa. But after a win over the Stags largely thanks to the doubles pairs’ performances, the Elis fell to the Hawkeyes 5–2.
In the first contest of the weekend, the Bulldogs squared off against in-state opponent Fairfield, which made the 30-minute trek to Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center for the match. Yale defeated Fairfield 8-1 to remain unbeaten in 2015. In the competition dominated by the Bulldogs, who were victorious in 11 out of the 12 overall matches, the spectacular play of the doubles pairs stood out above all.
“It was a great start winning every doubles match, which gave us confidence,” head coach Alex Dorato said.
The No. 1 doubles pair of Ziqi Wang ’18 and Martin Svenning ’16 defeated Brad Orban and Ofir Solomon of Fairfield 6–4. The victory was followed by similar outcomes in matches won by Tyler Lu ’17/Daniel Faierman ’15 and Fedor Andrienko ’18/Stefan Doehler ’18.
The only loss for the Bulldogs in singles competition resulted from a fiercely competitive and close match between Wang and Orban. Wang, currently ranked as the 95th best player in Division I tennis, was defeated by Orban 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, avenging Orban’s earlier loss to Wang during doubles play.
Faierman, who notched an impressive victory over Fairfield No. 3 seed Cameron Amyot 6–3, 6–0, credited the Bulldogs’ singles success to the team’s focus and preparation. He was also pleased by the excellent play of younger players such as Alex Hagermoser ’17 and Doehler, who both won as the respective No. 5 and No. 6 seeds.
“We had a great week of practice. I thought we came out extremely prepared, and we made sure that we were not taking Fairfield lightly,” Faierman said. “We have had really strong performances from our No. 5 and No. 6 players all year long.”
The team looked to capitalize on the momentum of Saturday’s wins and was back in action on Sunday, hosting a talented Iowa team. The Hawkeyes, who compete in the Big Ten conference, were coming off of the first loss of their season to Cornell on Friday, but they quickly went ahead in Sunday’s competition as the nationally-ranked No. 31 doubles pair of Matt Hagan and Dominic Patrick defeated Wang and Svenning. Heading into singles play, the score was brought closer by a 7–5 win by No. 3 doubles pair of Andrienko and Doehler.
Lu upset Iowa’s top seed Hagan in straight sets, but the Hawkeyes eventually emerged victorious 5-2, handing Yale its first loss of the season. Dorato praised Iowa as the best team that Yale has faced thus far, but he was also proud of the way his team competed.
“It was a good competitive match. [Iowa] just played a little better today,” Dorato said. “We can use the loss to work on the big things in each of our games. Hopefully, in the next few matches that we play, we will improve on the things that we did poorly today.”
Svenning was the other singles winner on the day, defeating Iowa’s Stieg Martens 6–3, 4–6, 6–4.
“If just a couple of games had swung our way, that could have been a 5–2 win for us,” Wang said. “[But] it was a really good opportunity for us to get to play a team that is not from our region and that is a great tennis school. The game was a confidence booster because we felt that we could compete with a team like Iowa. And these are the types of teams that at this level we will be playing in the Ivy League … It showed us what we are capable of.”
The Bulldogs are now 4–1 on the season. They will next be competing Feb. 13–15 for the ECAC Championships.