It is rivalry week for the men’s and women’s tennis teams as the Bulldogs look to gain ground in the Ivy League standings in matches against Harvard this Friday.
The Yale men’s team (11–9, 1–3 Ivy) will host the No. 34 ranked Crimson (17–6, 3–1) at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. It will be the second matchup of the spring between the two schools, as they previously met in February at the ECAC Indoor Championship. Although several individual matches were tight on that day, Harvard emerged victorious 4–0. In matches that were not completed, Tyler Lu ’17 and Harvard senior captain Denis Nguyen were battling in a close 6–3, 2–6 contest, while Daniel Faierman ’15 was storming back against Harvard’s Brian Yeung 3–6, 5–4.
“We played Harvard early in the year and we lost 4–0, but we were very close,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “I believe that we are in a stronger position now than we were when we played Harvard back in February.”
One of those newfound strengths is the play of Stefan Doehler ’18. Doehler has teamed up with fellow rookie Fedor Andrienko ’18 to create a formidable doubles pair, as evidenced by their 6–1 shellacking of Penn’s top doubles combo in the Bulldogs’ lone conference victory. Doehler has also emerged as a strong singles player to complement Lu and Martin Svenning ’16 at the top of the Eli lineup. Doehler sports a 2–2 singles record in Ivy League competition.
The Elis are coming off of consecutive losses to Columbia and Cornell last weekend, dropping their conference record to 1–3. However, Dorato believes that those tough road matches will help his team moving forward, especially in the match with Harvard on Friday. Yale is currently tied for sixth in the Ivy League, and a win over second-place Harvard is crucial if the Elis want to finish in the top half of the ladder.
“Regardless of how we finish in the Ivy League, we would love to beat Harvard,” Faierman said. “Everyone is super excited and motivated for this match.”
The rivalry and excitement surrounding the Crimson match also has members of the women’s team eager to take the courts. The women will travel to Cambridge to face the Crimson (7–9, 0–4) in their first matchup of the spring.
Last weekend, the Elis (8–9, 2–2) lost a 6–1 decision to Columbia before beating Cornell at home 4–3, and a victory on Friday would push the Bulldogs out of a mess in the middle of the conference standings, where five teams are separated by just half a game.
“Playing against Harvard is always particularly emotional, as [it is] our biggest rival,” Madeleine Hamilton ’16 said. “We will certainly be looking to make an exceptionally strong statement in our match.”
In last year’s matchup, Yale emerged victorious by a score of 5–2. The focus for the Bulldogs this time around will be taking advantage of key moments in singles competition, according to Hamilton. At the top of the lineup, captain Hanna Yu ’15 is having another solid season as she is currently 2–2 in singles conference play. There is also a trio of juniors who look to lead the Bulldogs in Hamilton, Ree Ree Li ’16 and Courtney Amos ’16.
“When we have the opportunity to win, we have to make sure to take it and do everything that we can to win the match,” Li said.
The women will begin competition at 2 p.m., while the men play at 1 p.m. in New Haven.