In Division I tennis, it is rare for three freshmen to play starting roles on a team. But this year’s Bulldog men’s tennis squad is an exception.
The freshmen trio of Fedor Andrienko ’18, Stefan Doehler ’18 and Ziqi Wang ’18 have all assumed starting roles for the men’s tennis team this spring, and they certainly are making the most of the opportunity.
“[All three players] are already in the starting lineup,” head coach Alex Dorato said, “and over the next four years, they will just continue getting better.”
The trio occupy half of the starting lineup for the Elis. Doehler and Andrieko play together as the No. 2 doubles pair, while Wang frequently teams up with Martin Svenning ’17 at the No. 1 seed. Additionally, each of the freshmen compete in singles matches.
Wang entered the season as the No. 95 ranked player in the nation. According to Dorato, he had an outstanding fall and even defeated the No. 1 competitor for Harvard. Wang was also instrumental in helping the Bulldogs begin the spring season on a four-game winning streak. Against Colgate University and Monmouth University, he posted wins at the No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed in singles, respectively.
“My freshman season has definitely lived up to my expectations,“ Wang said.
Meanwhile, Andrienko and Doehler have excelled in doubles play. Early in the spring season, the pair proved that they could win big games by defeating Jake Jacoby and Josh Silverstein of Iowa University 7–5. During Yale’s victory over nationally-ranked George Washington earlier this month in the opening round of the ECAC Championship, a 6–4 doubles win by Andrienko and Doehler helped the Bulldogs secure the doubles point and cruise to a 4–1 victory.
“Fedor Andrienko has some great volleys as a lefty,“ Dorato said. “He is a phenomenal doubles player, and he is the best doubles player of the three of them. He has a very nasty lefty serve.”
Unlike many freshmen athletes attempting to adapt to college competition, Andrienko, Doehler and Wang have experienced no such adjustment period. They have relied upon their close relationship with one another throughout the process.
“We are really close. In addition to three hours of practice every day, on top of lifts and conditioning, we go to dinner together, we go to class together, and we do a lot of [other] things together,” said Wang.
It was no surprise to Dorato that his freshmen would experience this success.
He credited their smooth transition to college competition to each of the player’s blend of size and athleticism. The trio has also been helped along by the leadership of seniors like Daniel Faierman ’15 and Captain Zachary Krumholz ’15.
“All of the seniors have really highlighted the importance of competing to our best abilities,” Doehler said. “Of course, winning is always a main goal, but they’ve taught me that the best tennis comes from focusing on having grit and staying positive.”
With each lesson and swing of the racket, Andrienko, Doehler and Wang are preparing for both the present and the future. In three and half years, when the three become seniors, these fantastic freshmen will be the veterans that are counted upon to lead the Elis, and they are already well on their way.
“I think that our class can do really great things,” said Wang. “This is just the beginning.”
The Bulldogs’ next competition will be against Fairleigh Dickinson, Marist and Stony Brook on March 7.