Continuing its worst start of the last 12 seasons, the Yale men’s tennis team dropped back-to-back 5–2 contests this weekend at the hands of No. 26 Columbia and No. 54 Cornell.
The weekend, which shaped up to be the Bulldogs’ toughest of the season, lived up to its billing as the Elis struggled against the strong competition. After losing both conference matches to open Ivy play last weekend, the Elis (12–10, 0–4 Ivy) were unable to defend their home court, though red-hot sophomores Fedor Andrienko ’18 and Stefan Doehler ’18 continued their recent successes with four combined singles wins and a weekend split in doubles. But the rest of the Bulldog squad could not add an additional victory, and the team remains one of two schools without an Ivy win.
“This weekend has been really tough, but we’ve shown that we belong among the best teams in the Ivy League,” Alex Hagermoser ’17 said. “The sophomores have done a fantastic job this season; all of them are starting and playing well. This week we will be working on our doubles, a particular weakness of ours the past two weeks.”
Yale’s Saturday afternoon against the conference-leading Lions began with a somewhat bittersweet performance in the doubles matches. The Bulldogs’ No. 1 doubles duo, Andrienko and Doehler, successfully knocked off Columbia’s No. 35 nationally ranked doubles partners Mike Vermeer and Michal Rolski by a score of 6–3. However, the bottom of the lineup prevailed for the Lions. Nationally ranked No. 21 Shawn Hadavi and Richard Pham defeated Martin Svenning ’16 and Photos Photiades ’17 by a 6–4 margin in the No. 2 match, after which the Bulldogs lost 6–0 in the third and final match to drop the doubles point.
Moving to singles play, it was Andrienko and Doehler again who carried the Yale team. The two sophomores took care of business on the No. 2 and No. 5 courts, respectively, with Andrienko winning 6–3, 6–1 and Doehler winning 6–1, 4–6, (10–6).
“[Andrienko] and [Doehler] have been doing great — definitely the two bright spots on the team so far,” captain Jason Brown ’16 said. “Ziqi [Wang ’18] has also played extremely well, competing at a really high level and taking on the responsibility of being the best player on the team.”
Elsewhere, Bulldogs were not able to continue their winning ways, dropping straight-set losses in the remaining matches. Only Hagermoser managed to win even six games between his two sets, with three of Columbia’s four singles wins including a perfect 6–0 set. With a victory against Brown on Sunday, the Lions now boast an undefeated conference record through five games for the third consecutive season, with their bid for a third-straight undefeated Ivy season still intact.
Little changed on Sunday for Yale, as similar storylines persisted for the Bulldogs against the Big Red. After losing the doubles point despite strong showings by Andrienko, Doehler, Hagermoser and Brown, the Bulldogs fell in four of the six singles matches. With the exception of Wang, who lost a tight 7–5, 7–5 contest in the No. 1 singles match, every other Bulldog forced a decisive third set in their respective losses. Three-set wins by Andrienko and Doehler in the No. 2 and No. 5 pairings marked the extent of the Bulldogs successes against Cornell, as the Bulldogs’ third consecutive ranked opponent sealed the deal at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center.
Yale will try to put its five-game skid in the rearview mirror as it prepares for some potentially easier competition this weekend, with what the team believes to be two opportunities to make its mark in the league win column.
“At this point, late in the Ivy season, our foremost goal is to win matches — and in particular next week’s upcoming match against Harvard,” Wang said. “All of us, and especially the sophomores, have faced and beaten tough competition this season. If we can all perform to our fullest potential in the next two weeks, I’m confident that the results will follow.”
Yale will embark on a one-game road trip Friday to take on No. 50 Harvard before playing host to fellow cellar-dweller Brown at home on Sunday.