The Yale men’s tennis team played six matches over spring break, notching four wins and two losses.
The barrage of competition began with the Yale Men’s Tennis Invitational at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center on March 7 and March 8 that pitted Yale against Stony Brook, Marist and Fairleigh Dickinson. The Bulldogs emerged victorious in all three games.
“As the weekend went on, we played better and better. By the last match, we really played very well,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “Everyone up and down the lineup had a good day and that doesn’t happen too often.”
The 6–1 defeat of Stony Brook on Saturday featured singles wins by Martin Svenning ’16 and Ziqi Wang ’18 at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions, and the pair also teamed up for a victory in the No. 1 doubles slot.
On Sunday, the Elis swept the Invitational with 7–2 and 8–0 victories over Marist and Fairleigh Dickinson, respectively. During the two matches, Yale received key contributions from Stefan Doehler ’18, Tyler Lu ’17 and Photos Photiades ’17. Photiades stepped into the lineup and performed admirably, winning in three sets against Marist’s Matteo Giudici and also defeating Fairleigh Dickinson’s Arnaud Valentin 6–1, 6–2.
“I hadn’t played a match in a while but after I stepped onto the court, I started playing well and the confidence came right back to me,” Photiades said.
The Bulldogs then headed to the west coast, looking to ride the momentum of their three-game win streak. However, Loyola Marymount snapped the Bulldogs’ series of wins with a 5–2 victory when Yale touched down in Los Angeles for the first match of the road trip. Although the Lions won all three of the doubles matches, Yale managed to pick up two wins in singles competition from Daniel Faierman ’15 and Svenning.
The weather and outdoor play in California was a factor in the performance of the Elis. The team had yet to be outside all spring until their matchup with Loyola Marymount. According to Wang, the Bulldogs had to adapt to the blistering hot weather because they were used to playing indoor matches in the cold weather.
The team was also hampered by injuries. Fedor Andrienko ’18, a strong doubles player, was sidelined with an ankle injury following his doubles match during the team’s final match with Utah. Svenning was forced to retire during the middle of his singles game against Utah’s Parker McGuiness because of an injury to his foot.
“Knowing that we had those two injuries and knowing that those are both starting players in both our singles and doubles lineups, we all knew that there was a little bit more pressure to step up,” Wang said. “Both Martin and Fedor are two very solid players.”
Although the Elis lost to Utah 5–2 in the final game in California on March 19, the highlight of the trip was an earlier 4–3 victory over Portland at Newport Beach on March 15. In the very next week, Portland went on to defeat Loyola Marymount — the team which defeated Yale — and Pepperdine, which is ranked No. 49 in the country. According to Dorato, the match with Portland was an incredibly exciting one whose outcome was decided by the No. 1 doubles game. In that match, freshmen Doehler and Andrienko came from behind to defeat Stefan Dierauf and Kent Andreasen of the University of Portland 7–6, clinching victory for the team.
The Bulldogs now possess a 10–5 record, and they will next compete against St. John’s in what is scheduled to be the final regular season match before the beginning of Ivy League play.
“It is our last chance to really get ready and practice the things that we have been working on, so it’s not critical that we win, but we want to really be mentally sharp,” said Dorato.
The match between Yale and St. John’s will take place in New York on Saturday, March 29 at 1 p.m.