Entering the weekend on a four-match winning streak, the Yale men’s tennis team came away empty-handed after two lopsided defeats in the ECAC Indoor Championship Tournament hosted by Penn.
The injury-burdened Elis opened the tournament with a 4–1 loss to Harvard on Friday before falling to St. John’s by the same margin on Saturday. Competing without a pair of its top players — Tyler Lu ’17 is out for the season while Ziqi Wang ’18 said he hopes to return in the coming weeks — the Bulldogs entered the weekend fighting an uphill battle, and their tournament results demonstrated as much.
“We played okay but were a bit overmatched by our opponents,” captain Jason Brown ’16 said. “We are looking forward to regrouping and playing better next weekend.”
In the team’s opening-round match against the top-seeded Crimson, which finished third in the eight-team tournament, Yale’s lone singles victory came in the No. 4 singles match, when Fedor Andrienko ’18 defeated Harvard’s Andy Zhou in straight sets, 6–3, 6–0. Though Martin Svenning ’16 and Photos Photiades ’17 earned a doubles victory in their first match playing together this season, the Crimson, ranked 32nd in the nation, secured the doubles point by defeating Yale in the two other doubles matches 6–2, 6–3.
Against St. John’s, it was Andrienko again who picked up Yale’s lone point of the day. The Moscow native topped the Red Storm’s Dusan Vukicevic 6–3, 6–0 to move his dual match record to 6–1 for the Elis.
Svenning won Yale’s only other set on Saturday, earning a 7–6 first-set victory in the No. 1 singles match. However, his match was unfinished as St. John’s had already clinched the victory with four points elsewhere. Alex Hagermoser ’17 also performed well, as he was up 6–5 in the second set against Lucas Hejhal, the 92nd-ranked player in the country, before their match was also cut short.
“The competition this weekend was super tough,” Stefan Doehler ’18 said. “The losses were disappointing, but we know we still have a lot of room to grow.”
Yale’s season so far has been defined in large part by injuries at the top of its lineup. Lu and Wang normally occupy the team’s top two singles spots, though Lu has not competed since the fall. Wang did compete in Yale’s Feb. 7 victory over Army, but with his absence this past weekend, others on the team were forced to play above their typical spots in the lineup.
“It’s forcing us to work harder at practice with greater purpose, knowing that we have a top spot to fill,” said Wang, who hopes to return to action in the coming weeks. “Even though the results might not show in the first few matches, I’m optimistic that our efforts will pay off come Ivy season.”
With Ivy matches not scheduled until the first weekend of April, the Bulldogs will spend the coming months actively preparing through nonconference competition while adjusting to their present injury situation.
Currently posting a 4–4 nonconference season record, Yale sits in sixth place among the Ancient Eight. Each Ivy team besides Columbia competed at the ECACs, which Princeton won.
“The weekend was good in that it made us realize how much harder we need to work to get better for Ivies,” Brown said.
Yale will return to competition on the road this weekend, when it takes on Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.