The Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams both took to the courts this weekend, with each team finishing the weekend on a high note. The men traveled to Hanover, New Hampshire for the Dartmouth Invitational, while the women played at home in the Yale Invitational.
The two teams faced league opponents, giving them a better sense of their rivals’ strengths and weaknesses before the start of the Ivy League season this spring. The women’s eight-team tournament featured the majority of Ivy teams — Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown, in addition to Yale — while the Eli men faced competitors from Dartmouth and Brown.
However, not everyone on the men’s team traveled to Dartmouth. Tyler Lu ’17, currently ranked No. 100 in the nation, was the lone Bulldog competing at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Lu faced three opponents, including No. 34 Sam Shropshire of Northwestern. He took all of his opponents to three sets but ultimately fell short in each. Against Shropshire, Lu won the first set 6–3 before dropping the next two, 6–3 then 7–5.
“What makes Tulsa particularly challenging, but also enjoyable, is the fact that everyone there has proven that they are among the best in the country,” Lu said. “It was an honor to represent Yale at a tournament dominated by typical big conference powerhouses. Competing on the biggest stage for college tennis while being able to represent my teammates, Yale and the Ivy League was extremely humbling and definitely a highlight of my time here at Yale so far.”
The Yale Invitational ran into some technical difficulties on Friday, with rain and a power outage forcing some of Yale’s morning matches against Boston College to be canceled, and others to be truncated on Saturday afternoon.
One highlight for the Bulldogs on Saturday morning was Tina Jiang ’17, who found success in her first appearance since September after straining her hamstring at the Harvard Fall Invitational. Jiang won her first match in straight sets, defeating her Pitt opponent 6–1, 7–5, and went on to win her match against a Rutgers foe on Sunday, 7–5, 6–4.
Doubles teammates Courtney Amos ’16 and Sonal Shrivastava ’19 also won both their matches, 8–6 over Harvard on Saturday and 8–2 against Rutgers on Sunday. Sherry Li ’17 and Carol Finke ’18 matched that performance on Saturday, winning their doubles match over Pitt 8–6, though they dropped their Sunday match to a Rutgers pair 8–4. The third doubles pair, Jiang and Valerie Shklover ’18, also fell to Pitt on Saturday, 8–3, for Jiang’s only loss of the tournament.
In one of two chances that Yale had to face Ivy competition on the weekend, Madeleine Hamilton ’16 played alongside captain Ree Ree Li ’16, though the two fell 8–3 to Brown. Elizabeth Zordani ’18, paired with Columbia’s Alex Solovyev, defeated opponents from Brown 8–4.
Against Harvard, the Yale-Columbia duos also split their matches, bringing Yale’s overall doubles record to 5–6 on the weekend. The doubles performance marked a slight improvement over last weekend, when the Elis combined to go 3–6 in the Cissie Leary Invitational and interim head coach Matej Zlatkovic named doubles a main focus for the ensuing week of practice.
“In singles, players are getting much more comfortable, recognizing the weaknesses of opponents,” Zlatkovic said last week. “There’s definitely some room for improvement in doubles.”
In the singles portion of the composite match that brought Columbia and Yale together against Brown, the Lions and Bulldogs had limited success, as the six women from Brown swept their matches.
Two states away in Hanover, the Eli men faced the same results when matched against Brown. One of few Ancient Eight squads at the Dartmouth Invitational — with the other being host team Dartmouth — Brown defeated Yale in both a singles and doubles match.
But the Bulldogs found success against nearly every other team. The Elis performed well in tight matches, compiling a combined 5–2 record in three-set matches, with several standout performances from a variety of players.
“A number of our players’ performances exceeded expectations this weekend at Dartmouth, not to mention [Lu’s] exceedingly strong showing at the All-American tournament in Tulsa against the nation’s best players,” Ziqi Wang ’18 said. “Our singles lineup is looking strong, barring injuries, and though the doubles lineup could be improved, we do expect a strong showing in both regards come Ivy season.”
Wang himself moved to 7–0 in singles matches on the season after defeating Army’s Kyle Barnes and then Dartmouth’s Max Fliegner, the latter of whom had dispatched Wang’s teammate Martin Svenning ’16 the day before.
Alex Hagermoser ’17, meanwhile, was one win away from moving to 10–0 when that season streak snapped late in the weekend. After beating an opponent from Williams, Hagermoser fell in the finals of his draw to Brown’s Mladen Mitak. With partner Svenning, Hagermoser rebounded to win his doubles match — and therefore the doubles consolation draw — over Buffalo, 8–6.
Other doubles pairs from Yale fared well. After beating a pair from Fairfield, Stefan Doehler ’18 and Nathan Brown ’19 resoundingly defeated their opponents from Dartmouth on Saturday by a score of 8–2.
Yale’s two teams will switch schedules for their next competition: the women will travel up to Dartmouth, as the Big Green host the USTA/ITA Regional Championships in two weeks, while Yale plays host for the men’s USTA/ITA Regional Championships the same weekend. Both tournaments begin on Oct. 22.