The Yale men’s tennis team emerged perfect in both of its nonconference matches this weekend, extending its current winning streak to four matches and establishing crucial momentum ahead of next week’s ECAC Indoor Championships.
The Bulldogs (4–2, 0–0 Ivy) defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 4–3 and Army 5–2 on the weekend, with both matches highlighting the depth of Yale’s squad. Strong performances in doubles were the key to victory against UMBC (1–7, 0–0 America East) on Friday, while a dominant 5–1 record in singles carried Yale to its win at Army on Sunday. After beginning their season with two consecutive losses, the Elis are now on a four-match tear that has included a 17–7 overall record in singles.
“I think the team atmosphere has a lot to do with our recent success,” Tyler Lu ’17, who is currently injured, said. “Not only is everyone excited to be in dual-match season, but towards the end of the fall we had a lot of injuries to different players. Our first match in the spring season only had two starters out of six, so it helps that a lot of key contributors are finding their way back into the lineup.”
Yale’s match against UMBC was one of the most hotly contested of the 2016 season, as the Bulldogs’ singles performance was only barely able to secure the overall victory after an initial lead from doubles.
The Elis started the day off by dominating the Retrievers in doubles to take an early 1–0 advantage. At No. 1, Fedor Andrienko ’18 and Stefan Doehler ’18 won their match 6–3, and at No. 3, Jason Brown ’16 and Alex Hagermoser ’17 cleaned up by a score of 6–1. Those two Yale pairs won their matches — and secured the lone doubles point up for grabs — before Martin Svenning ’16 and Ziqi Wang ’18 could finish their match at No. 2.
Yale then needed to go 3–3 at the very least in singles to win the team match, and that is exactly what the Bulldogs did. No. 2 Svenning, No. 3 Hagermoser and No. 6 Andrienko earned the necessary wins to give their team its third consecutive team victory. Hagermoser’s match, which went to three sets and included a dramatic 6–4 win in the third, ultimately clinched the result for Yale.
“The key to success against UMBC was to get a good start and keeping the momentum up,” Svenning said. “In singles we all took care of business, and in the end the match was not that close.”
Though Yale ultimately won the next Sunday at Army (2–1, 0–0 Patriot) in their first road contest of 2016, the day did not start off as well for the Elis as their prior victory had. In doubles, Svenning and Wang succumbed to their Army foes 6–4, and a similar result happened at No. 3, with Brown and Hagermoser losing by the same score.
Andrienko and Doehler managed to snag one doubles win for the Bulldogs, winning their match 6-–2, but the Black Knights still earned the doubles point to take a match lead of 1-–0 heading into singles.
Singles play proved to be Yale’s strength on Saturday, as the Bulldogs won five of the total six singles matches to cruise to victory.
At the top of the ladder, Wang won by default when his opponent, at that point up 5–3 in the first set, retired due to injury. In the second singles match of the day, No. 4 Dennis Wang ’19 put Yale in the lead by winning 6–2, 6–1. Wang has now won his last four singles matches for Yale.
With Yale then leading the match 2–1 and needing just two more wins, players continued to swing hard to maintain their advantage on the court.
“We maintained mental toughness throughout the whole match, even though it was our first away match this spring,” Andrienko said.
Andrienko, playing at No. 2, scored another win for Yale with a 6–2, 7–5 result. His teammate Svenning followed suit at No. 2, snatching a hard-fought 7–6, 6–4 win.
Two more singles were lined up to play, even though Yale had already secured the match victory. Doehler and Hagermoser both played three close sets against their Army opponents, but while Hagermoser ultimately prevailed, Doehler faced a loss.
The Bulldogs have now shifted their focus toward Saturday, when they will travel to New York to compete in the ECAC Indoor Championships.
“ECAC is always a lot of fun since it’s almost a mini version of the Ivy League to come in April,” Svenning said. “Right now, we are all trying to recover from tough matches and avoid injuries. There are still a couple things everyone could improve on tennis-wise, so this week’s practice will be focused on perfecting our game.”
The tournament, which is the first show of strength for the Bulldogs against their Ivy League opponents this season, will take place Feb. 12–14. Harvard won the event last year.
Ayla Besemer contributed reporting.