Joey Ye

The Yale men’s tennis team has waited nearly a year to return to Ivy League action and improve upon its sixth place finish last season. But due to the efforts of Penn and No. 34 Princeton, the Bulldogs will have to wait at least another week for a conference win.

Traveling south this past weekend, the Elis (12–8, 0–2 Ivy) suffered a 5–2 defeat to Penn (7–11, 2–0 Ivy) on Saturday before falling 4–1 at the hands of Princeton (14–6, 2–0 Ivy) the following day. Failing to win a conference match in its opening weekend for the first time since 2007, Yale came away from the weekend with plenty of room for improvement heading into the remainder of the season.

“[This weekend’s competition] was a tough way to start the Ivy season but we will rebound,” captain Jason Brown ’16 said.

Yale’s match against Penn on Saturday began on a difficult note, as the Quakers swept the three doubles matches by scores of 7–5, 6–3 and 6–4. The Bulldogs, who entering this weekend had beaten Penn in nine consecutive conference seasons, could not regain momentum as they lost four first sets in the team’s six singles matches. Though Martin Svenning ’16 and Stefan Doehler ’18 each took care of business following their first-set wins, winning the No. 4 and No. 6 singles matches by 6–3, 6–4 and 6–4, 6–0 marks, respectively, teammates elsewhere were unable to find similar success and rebound from losing the early doubles point.

“Playing against tough teams in the Ivies, starting off with the first point is greatly important in both momentum and overall score,” Doehler said of the importance of the often-decisive doubles point. “Securing the early point will be key to our success in future matches.”

Sophomores Ziqi Wang ’18 and Fedor Adrienko ’18 lost 6–4, 7–6 and 6–1, 6–2 respectively in the top two singles matches. Alex Hagermoser ’17 fell to Penn sophomore Josh Pompan by a 6–3, 6–0 score in the No. 3 match, and Dennis Wang ’19 lost a 7–5, 6–4 contest in the No. 5 match. With the Quakers’ weekend sweep of Yale and Brown, Penn equaled its combined conference win total from the past two seasons. With five Ivy matches remaining on the season, Penn needs just one win to secure its first three-win Ivy season since 2008.

Also of note for the Bulldogs was the absence of two-time first-team All-Ivy selection Tyler Lu ’17, who will miss the entire 2016 spring season due to injury. Lu is 3–1 in his career against the Quakers at the No. 1 singles position.

Sunday’s competition against Princeton followed the matchup’s historical trends, with the Tigers extending their win streak against Yale to seven matches while holding the Bulldogs to just one singles or doubles match win for the third time in as many seasons.

Despite Photos Photiades ’17 and Svenning earning a 6–3 win in the No. 2 doubles match, the Elis were unable to secure the point due to Princeton wins on the remaining two courts.

“[Svenning] played great for us this weekend. His success in both singles and doubles is a driving factor for team wins,” Doehler said. “He and [Photiades] have proven to be a formidable doubles force and the most successful duo on our team this season. When [Svenning] is at the top of his game, there are very few opponents he cannot beat.”

In singles play, Doehler again completed a sweep in the No. 6 spot with a 6–0, 6–4 win over Tiger sophomore Kial Kaiser. However, the rest of the Bulldog squad was unable to complement Doehler’s success, with straight-set losses by Adrienko, Svenning and Dennis Wang allowing Princeton to secure the victory.

Ziqi Wang’s No. 1 singles match and Hagermoser’s No. 3 singles match, though both in the middle of decisive third sets, were cut short when the Tigers clinched the win.

With five remaining Ivy League matches on the calendar, Yale will return home to the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center next weekend as it faces formidable opponents in No. 28 Columbia and No. 56 Cornell. The pair of matchups will kick off a stretch of four consecutive ranked opponents for Yale.

However, three of those five meetings will be at home, where the Bulldogs boast an 8–3 record this season. The team hopes that success can translate into its first Ivy win next weekend in front of the Yale crowd.

“Playing at home is certainly a benefit, [since] we know the courts very well,” Svenning said. “Even though we have two very tough matches upcoming next weekend, I am confident that we can win.”

Yale is currently tied with Brown and No. 47 Harvard for sixth in the conference standings.