With its hopes at claiming its first Ivy League title since 1993 already dashed, the Yale men’s tennis team emerged from its penultimate weekend of Ivy competition two steps closer to the unenviable possibility of a winless conference season.
After falling 5–2 to No. 48 Harvard (16–10, 4–2 Ivy) and 4–1 to No. 36 Dartmouth (16–8, 5–1) this past weekend, the Bulldogs (12–12, 0–6) find themselves shouldering their longest conference losing streak since their 0–7 Ivy finish in 2002. Yale now has just one more chance to crack the win column, when it faces Brown, also winless, on the road.
“The Ivy League has been very strong lately, with almost all the teams being ranked,” Alex Hagermoser ’17 said. “While we haven’t been as successful as we would like [this season], the higher level of play has made us raise our own level of play to match it.”
Visiting Harvard on Friday, the Bulldogs struggled to find momentum out of the gate. A Crimson sweep at doubles to start the evening represented the third conference match this year in which Yale has failed to record even one doubles win, and the struggles continued for the Elis in the singles matches. Ziqi Wang ’18 picked up his first win in the No. 1 singles slot this year, a 7–6(5), 6–4 victory over Harvard senior Nicky Hu, and Stefan Doehler ’18 continued to excel in the No. 5 singles spot, earning a 6–4, 7–6(3) win against freshman Christopher Morrow, but no other Bulldogs joined the duo in the win column.
Fellow sophomore Fedor Andrienko ’18 battled back from a 4–6 first set loss to force a third set in the No. 2 singles match, but ultimately fell 4–6, 6–3, 6–2 as the Crimson clinched the match, Harvard’s fourth consecutive Ivy League victory of the season following an 0–2 start in league play.
Yale finished off a grueling stretch of five straight ranked Ivy opponents with action versus Dartmouth on Sunday. Riding the momentum of four consecutive conference wins, the Big Green took a quick lead at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, maintaining its prowess in Ivy League doubles matches against the Bulldogs. Led by the ITA-ranked No. 70 duo of George Wall and Brendan Tannebaum, Dartmouth improved its conference doubles record to 6–0 with a 7–5 win over Andrienko and Doehler in the first match and a 6–1 dispatching of Jason Brown ’16 and Hagermoser in the No. 3 spot.
After clinching the doubles point, the Ivy League’s second-best team worked quickly in the singles matches against Yale. The Bulldogs’ lone victory of the afternoon came from Martin Svenning ’16, who toppled Wall with a 6–4, 6–4 sweep. Though Hagermoser and Doehler both held leads on other courts, Dartmouth wins everywhere else secured the match for the Big Green and halted the Eli sophomores’ pursuits of victory.
With their first 0–6 start to a conference season since 2002, the Bulldogs will now turn their effort toward avoiding both the bottom spot in the 2016 Ancient Eight standings and the program’s fifth last-place finish since 1999. A window of opportunity still remains, however, as Yale’s final opponent of the season is 0–6 companion Brown.
“The team’s approach remains an emphasis on improving each player’s game to his maximum potential,” Wang said. “We believe that, given the efforts we have put in throughout this year, the results will fall in our favor next weekend against Brown.”
The Bulldogs will visit Brown on Saturday, with play starting at 1 p.m.