Both the Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams took to the courts this weekend at the USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Championships. With the women playing at Dartmouth and the men hosting in New Haven, both teams saw strong individual performances but were unable to advance any player past the fourth of six days in their tournament. The highly anticipated tournaments brought together strong players from various schools across the Northeast, including all eight Ivy League schools.
The women’s squad is now looking ahead to the Wildcat Invitational next weekend in Evanston, Illinois hosted by Northwestern, which begins on Friday, Nov. 6. The men will have to be more patient, with their next contest two weeks away in Flushing, New York at the ITA Indoor National, which begins on Thursday, Nov. 12.
TWO DOUBLES PAIRS EXCEL
The Eli men were represented this weekend by eight players, with two from each class. Two doubles pairings — Martin Svenning ’16 and Dennis Wang ’19 along with captain Jason Brown ’16 and Photos Photiades ’17 — highlighted Yale’s performance at the tournament by advancing to the quarterfinals.
“The competition was really strong this weekend,” Brown said. “I thought our guys played well, but we definitely need to get a lot better in the offseason to compete with some of the best Ivy teams.”
Yale’s top player, Tyler Lu ’17, qualified for the eighth seed in the main draw for singles, but ultimately did not compete due to injury. Stefan Doehler ’18, who was named Northeast Region Rookie of the Year last season, was also injured for the tournament. This left Ziqi Wang ’18 as the only Yale player to earn a first-round bye, holding the No. 32 seed in the main draw.
Without an initial berth, Photiades needed to qualify for the main draw on Thursday, and did so easily with two decisive victories. On Friday in the main draw, Photiades followed that performance up with a 6–2, 6–4 win on Friday.
Yale got off to a fast start on Friday, with all three doubles pairings winning their matches early in the day. In singles action, Svenning, just a few hours after winning a doubles match alongside Dennis Wang, powered through Cornell’s Karlo Lozic — a higher-seeded opponent — in a 6–1, 7–6 victory. Head coach Alex Dorato highlighted that match, specifically, as “tremendous” for Svenning.
For other Elis on Friday, however, Ivy opponents proved to be their downfall — a recurring theme throughout the weekend for both the men and women. Dennis Wang, Fedor Andrienko ’18 and Nathan Brown ’19 all fell to Ancient Eight competitors. But the day ended on a high note for Yale, as Alex Hagermoser ’17 emerged victorious in a rollercoaster match to round out Friday’s singles. After easily winning the first set, Hagermoser lost the second in a tiebreaker, but then fought back in the third set to win 6–1, 6–3, improving his singles record this year to 10–1.
Yale continued to pull off upset victories on Saturday, as Jason Brown and Photiades, as well as Svenning and Dennis Wang, won against seeded opponents. The other Bulldog doubles pair, Andrienko and Hagermoser, fell on Saturday, as did every singles player for Yale. The closest was the seeded Ziqi Wang, who battled Dartmouth’s Eddie Grabill and won 6–1, 7–6 but fell later in the day with a 7–6, 6–4 loss.
The tournament came to a close for Yale on Sunday, as Svenning and Dennis Wang fell to a strong Brown pair 8–5, while Jason Brown and Photiades suffered a similar fate to a Dartmouth squad 8–4. Both opponents were seeded higher in the tournament than Yale’s pairs. Despite the losses, Jason Brown said Yale’s heads remained high leaving the courts.
“[Photiades] and I had really good chemistry and energy throughout the weekend,” Brown said. “We really enjoyed competing, and that helped us play good tennis.”
Dorato said that the depth of competition was the strongest he had seen in the Northeast Regional Championships in 30 years.
Overall, Dorato was impressed with his team’s performance, considering the amount of upsets the Bulldogs managed. He also cited the absences of top players Lu and Doehler as key injuries.
“We can compete on even terms with the top teams in the league if we are healthy and are at full-force,” Dorato said.
JIANG, SHKLOVER ADVANCE TO FINAL EIGHT
Meanwhile at Dartmouth, Tina Jiang ’17 was the top performer for the Bulldog women, advancing to Sunday in both singles and doubles. Valerie Shklover ’18 was Jiang’s partner in that doubles pair, which went all the way to the quarterfinals.
“I think our mental strength was the key to our success as a team,” Shklover said. “I think we performed well, but definitely are all capable of more.”
Courtney Amos ’16 and Sherry Li ’17 both saw qualifying action on Thursday, when Li coasted to a 6–0, 6–2 victory, while Amos, having only recently come back from a long-term injury, lost a close qualifying match.
On Friday, the team saw mixed results in both doubles and singles. The pair of Jiang and Shklover began its weekend-long run in doubles by securing a spot in the Round of 16 with wins of 8–7 and 8–3. The two were the only doubles pair to advance for Yale, as Madeleine Hamilton ’16 and captain Ree Ree Li ’16 won their first match but lost their second.
On the singles side, while Hamilton, Jiang and Ree Ree Li all enjoyed first-round byes, Amy Yang ’19 was the only Bulldog to advance through Friday’s singles, winning her match 7–5, 6–7, 6–4 after dropping the second set. Though Sherry Li won the first set in her singles match on Friday, she dropped the next two, falling 6–7, 6–2, 6–3 to end her run in the tournament.
Saturday presented a new challenge, as matches were played indoors due to inclement weather. This did not slow Jiang, however, who won her first match 6–0, 6–2, and her second 6–3, 7–5, advancing to the Round of 16. But no other Eli was able to survive Saturday’s singles competition, leaving Jiang, both in singles and in doubles with Shklover, to represent Yale on Sunday.
Despite battling hard, Yale was not able to advance through Sunday’s competition. Jiang and Shklover won their first match 8–3 to advance to the final eight, but they lost 8–7 in a tiebreaker in the quarterfinals to a Dartmouth pair that had lost just three games before that match. Jiang later lost a hard-fought singles match to a tough Brown opponent.