The Yale men’s tennis team will be competing in the ECAC Championships this weekend, opening competition on Friday in a play-in contest against George Washington University.
The Colonials, ranked No. 61 in the country, mark the beginning of what Daniel Faierman ’15 described as the most challenging sporting event so far this season.
“It is the most important competition so far this season,” Faierman said. “It is a big test to find out where we are.”
So far in the spring season, the Bulldogs (4–1, 0–0 Ivy) have only competed at home. A loss on Feb. 1 to the Iowa Hawkeyes spoiled what had been a perfect 4–0 start, but two players — Tyler Lu ’17 and Martin Svenning ’16 — remain undefeated this year.
George Washington will be serious competition for the Elis, as the Colonials were picked to finish first in the preseason Atlantic 10 coaches’ poll. George Washington has won three conference championships in the past four years, including a triumph last season over VCU.
“I think there’s definitely a pressure to perform, but at the same time, it’s not a bad pressure,” Lu said. “It’s just knowing that we need to be focused.”
For the past few weeks, the team has been practicing its backhand and doubles play. Yale has earned the doubles point in three of its five matches this season, a statistic that leaves room for improvement.
Coach Alex Dorato noted that the team’s practice for the past few weeks has been efficient in improving the team and its players’ skills, as well helping the freshmen members to evolve their games.
“The team is coming together, doubles have improved,” Dorato said. “The three freshmen are doing great; they will all be in the lineup somewhere.”
Those freshmen — Fedor Andrienko ’18, Stefan Doehler ’18 and Ziqi Wang ’18 — have been major players this season. Wang began the spring season ranked as the No. 95 player in the country, and in the team’s most recent game against Iowa, Wang played in the No. 2 spot, though he lost a hotly contested game against the Hawkeyes’ Dominic Patrick, 3–6, 6–4, 6–4.
Doehler and Andrienko, meanwhile, have formed a doubles team and have played extremely well in their nascent Yale careers. The pair has won all four doubles matches it has competed in this season.
Yale’s game against George Washington is a play-in game. As the No. 9 seed in the tournament, the Bulldogs must defeat George Washington to earn a spot in the final eight, where they would play No. 30 Harvard, which is hosting the competition. The Crimson is both the top-seeded squad in the championships and the second-highest ranked Ivy team in the country, behind No. 13 Columbia. The Lions are not taking part in this tournament because they will be in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national team championship this weekend, playing No. 4 Georgia on Friday.
But despite the impressive foes slated to appear in the tournament, Faierman remains confident in the team’s ability.
“We’ve had a really good week of preparation,” Faierman said. “We’re pretty optimistic … We have a pretty evenly strong lineup.”
Lu said the team is better than it was last year and that this weekend should be a good barometer of the team’s true talent level.
The 2015 ECAC Men’s Tennis Championship will take place in Cambridge, Mass., between Feb. 13 to 16. Yale’s game is at 10 a.m. on Friday and will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network.