As he approached the net, Yale men’s tennis player Alex Hagermoser ’17 decided not to swing at the passing shot of Columbia’s Jack Turchetta. The ball landed long, clinching a victory for Hagermoser, and all he then needed to do was wait to shake hands with his opponent.
That win was a high point of a hectic but invaluable weekend for the men’s tennis team, which split to play in two events in its second competitive weekend of the year. The Yale women’s tennis team also competed over the weekend, heading north to make its season debut in the Harvard Fall Invitational.
For the men, four members competed in the Ivy Plus tournament in Princeton, N.J., which included players from 22 schools stretching as far west as the University of Tulsa. Four other players stayed on campus, competing in the Connecticut State Championships alongside players from seven other regional schools.
“I wanted to make sure all of our guys got to compete on the same weekend, and there’s no tournament that takes [everyone] at one time,” men’s head coach Alex Dorato said. “By having our own tournament during another tournament, now everyone who’s healthy could play.”
All eight players produced some success, with each winning at least one match in his main draw or in the consolation rounds.
Hagermoser, who a week ago went 3–0 at the Penn Invitational, provided the highlight from Princeton. He won the Whitman bracket of the Ivy Plus without dropping a set, overcoming Turchetta and heavy winds in a 6–4, 6–4 final that Hagermoser called “really tough” and “the culmination” of how he played during the weekend.
“Alex did great,” Dorato said about the junior from Hinsdale, Illinois. “He beat some really good players, and I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s playing and competing.”
In New Haven, two freshmen also managed to reach the final day of play on Sunday. Charlie Adams ’19 and Photos Photiades ’17 won the doubles title of the Connecticut A bracket, while Nathan Brown ’19 nearly equaled Hagermoser’s achievement in singles. Playing in the A draw, Brown finished second thanks to an impressive run that included a 6–2, 6–4 semifinal victory over Marist’s Jan Dernic, who had knocked off Yale senior captain Jason Brown ’16 in the first round.
A year after teammate Tyler Lu ’17 won the singles championship for the second consecutive year, however, Brown could not match the feat, losing 6–3, 6–4 to Rudolf Kurz of Marist.
The women’s team saw eight members compete in the Harvard Fall Invitational, which included the hosts from Cambridge as well as Boston College, Boston University, Columbia, Connecticut and Wake Forest.
Not only was it the first competition of the year for the players, but it was also the first competition at the helm for Matej Zlatkovic. Zlatkovic, an assistant during the 2014–15 season, was named interim head coach in June following the departure of Taka Bertrand, who spent less than one year at Yale.
Zlatkovic saw his players struggle at times, particularly in the singles brackets, where only three of the eight won their first round matches. Nevertheless, Zlatkovic, who remarked that the initial experience of being a head coach was “not much different” from his prior role, was encouraged. He noted that the team only had seven days of practice — much of which centered on fitness — while many of its opponents had multiple weeks to prepare.
“The way we are competing, it was outstanding,” Zlatkovic said. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was very positively surprised.”
Among the bright spots during the weekend were the performances of the two freshmen that made the trip. Caroline Amos ’19 won the Crimson division, defeating Wake Forest’s Kasey Gardiner 7–5, 7–5 in the final.
Incidentally, that was the only complete match that Amos played as part of the bracket: Her two previous wins came first through a walkover following an injury to her opponent and then after Columbia’s Adi Milstein retired in the first set with Amos leading 3–0.
Meanwhile, Amy Yang ’19 came back from down a set to defeat Boston University’s Remi Ramos in the Green division first round before falling in another tough three-setter. In the A doubles division, Yang won her first round match alongside partner Tina Jiang ’17, a junior transfer from Columbia, who had the interesting challenge of running into her old team at the first tournament she played for Yale.
“It was definitely a little awkward to see former coaches and former teammates, but everyone was supportive and really understanding,” Jiang said. “And it wasn’t too bad; after [the first meeting] it was fine.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams now turn their focus to October tournaments at Ivy League sites. The women will play at Penn’s Cissie Leary Invitational from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4, while the men’s team will be in Hanover from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11, competing in the Dartmouth Invitational.