In their first taste of Ivy League action in 2015, the Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams squared off against Penn and Princeton. Though both squads opened their weekends with wins over the Quakers, losses to the Tigers spoiled both teams’ chances at consecutive victories.
The Penn men’s team entered the competition on Saturday ranked No. 67 in the nation. However, the recent history between the two schools heavily favored Yale, as the Quakers had lost six straight matches to the Elis dating back to 2008. Yale’s 5–2 win — the fourth straight match in the series to end with that score — ran the streak to seven.
The Bulldogs relied on singles wins to secure the victory over Penn. Tyler Lu ’17 defeated Penn’s Nicholas Podesta at the No. 1 singles spot by a score of 7–6, 3–6, 1–0. Stefan Doehler ’18 won at the No. 3 singles position over Penn’s Blaine Willenbord (6–4, 6–3) to clinch the match.
The only singles victory for Penn came from the No. 2 position. The Quakers did manage to secure the doubles point before heading into singles competition; although Yale has relied on the doubles point all season, winning the point in 10 out of the last 11 matches, the Bulldogs were only victorious at No. 1 doubles as Fedor Andrienko ’18 and Doehler won their match 6–1.
“The win over UPenn was crucial, indicating that we have the ability to take down any team in the league this season regardless of ranking,” Ziqi Wang ’18 said.
The Bulldogs exhibited flashes of that promise on Sunday against No. 27 Princeton, which is led by senior Zack McCourt and sophomore Thomas Colautti, as their pairing is ranked No. 34 in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Despite that lofty ranking, Yale won all three of the doubles matches against the Tigers. Andrienko and Doehler continued their dominance with a 6–3 victory at the No. 1 position, and Martin Svenning ’16 and Wang and the No. 3 pair of Alex Hagermoser ’17 and Lu also posted wins.
“That same mindset [as with UPenn] was reinforced after all three doubles teams came out victorious over Princeton today,” Wang said. “I believe at that point we all thought we would pull off the upset over Princeton.”
But after the impressive performance in doubles play, the Bulldogs faltered in singles competition as they were unable to win a match. Lu twice went into set tiebreakers with McCourt, but ultimately lost a tough 7–6, 7–6 decision. Doehler won the first set of his match against Alexander Day, but eventually lost 3–6, 7–5, 1–0.
The women’s team opened its Ivy League season with a convincing 7–0 road victory over Penn on Friday. Captain Hanna Yu ’15 defeated Penn’s Augustina Eskenazi 6–4, 4–6, 1–0 (6) in singles play. Ree Ree Li ’16 and Madeleine Hamilton ’16 secured an 8–3 victory in No. 1 doubles play, while Li also came from behind to win her singles match in three sets 3–6, 6–2, 6–2. At the No. 4 singles position, Courtney Amos ’16 was able to hold off Penn’s Lina Qostal in three sets 6–1, 2–6, 6–1.
“Penn was a really important match for us in order to set the tone for the rest of our Ivy League season,” Hamilton said. “It was great to have a chance to work on our games and team spirit in a competitive atmosphere.”
The Bulldogs then traveled to No. 56 Princeton on Saturday for their second contest of theweekend, but the 5–2 loss to Princeton ended Yale’s four-match winning streak.
Princeton won the doubles point, but the No. 2 pair of Yu and Valerie Shklover ’18 were leading their opponents 6–5 when the match was called after the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles matches were won by the Tigers.
In singles play, Li posted a win at the No. 3 position by a score of 6–1, 6–2 over Princeton’s Alanna Wolff. The other winner for the Elis was Sherry Li ’17, who defeated Dorothy Tang by a score of 7–5, 6–4. Hamilton lost her match in three sets despite winning the first set against Amanda Muliawan 5–7, 6–1, 6–0.
“Obviously Princeton was a tough loss, but everyone competed well and we had opportunities to win in every position,” Amos said.
Both teams will take on Columbia and Cornell this upcoming weekend, with the men traveling to New York and the women playing at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center in New Haven.