Although the Ivy League tennis season is still five months away, the Yale men’s and women’s teams culminated their fall seasons this past weekend, building momentum ahead of winter training.
The Eli men finished the fall by hosting the Connecticut State Championships — welcoming eight regional teams — and delivering several dominant performances in front of the home crowd.
“Considering our results in the last few seasons, this team’s fall performance has met or exceeded expectations,” Ziqi Wang ’18 said. “Even with several starting players out due to injury, we’ve put up a strong fall season, and with those players expected to return in the spring, it’s likely this could be our best season since I’ve been on the team.”
The men’s team opened Friday with doubles play, where the Elis put up a dominant performance throughout and foreshadowed what was to come in the three-day tournament.
The pairing of Dylan King ’20 and Ziqi Wang ’18 handily captured two wins, against teams from Quinnipiac and Marist, as did Fedor Andrienko ’18 and captain Stefan Doehler ’18. Yale’s third doubles pair, comprised of Nathan Brown ’19 and rookie Alan Sou ’21, won its first match before falling to a pair from St. John’s.
In singles play, Wang defeated Fairfield’s No. 1 player before the first-year Sou routed his own Fairfield opponent 6–0, 6–1, bringing the budding rookie’s singles record to 8–1 in the last nine matches.
Andrienko was the first Bulldog to lose in singles play but bounced back 6–3, 6–3 in a separate draw to conclude Friday’s competition.
The Elis returned for a stellar second day that outdid their first-day performance and redefined the team’s expectations, highlighted by Andrienko and Doehler claiming the doubles’ championship title in an all-Yale round.
After Friday’s success, King and Wang edged out their St John’s opponents in the top half of the A draw, while Andrienko and Doehler easily captured a victory against Marist. The resulting Bulldog-on-Bulldog championship match saw the two Eli teams fight their way to a 5–5 deadlock, from which the pair of seniors managed to pull away 7–5 and claim the title.
With the doubles performances providing reason for optimism, Yale then posted similarly dominant results in singles play. Ziqi Wang cruised to a victory over an opponent from St. John’s, while Doehler and Dennis Wang ’19 emerged victorious in three sets against opponents from St. John’s and Marist, respectively.
The second day’s successes set up Doehler and Ziqi Wang to play each other on Sunday, when Doehler emerged victorious against his teammate, 6–3, 7–5, to claim the singles title and conclude a perfect weekend.
The Bulldog women capped their fall schedule with a promising performance at the Big Green Invite at Dartmouth this weekend. First-year players have already made notable contributions for the Elis this season.
“We have some very talented first years who add a lot to our program, so I think that they have the potential to make a big impact,” Elizabeth Zordani ’18 said. “It’s hard to say how we did as a team because the fall is generally more focused on individual results. We definitely had some standout performances throughout the course of the fall season.”
In Hanover, rookie Samantha Martinelli ’21 entered the competition fresh off a spectacular run at ITA regionals that saw her advance to the semifinals before falling to the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Martinelli, playing in Yale’s top spot, faced off with Dartmouth senior Kristina Mathis, who she beat at the Bulldog Invitational earlier this year with a third-set tiebreaker. Mathis won this rematch, again determined in three sets.
Against the Big Green, the Bulldogs ultimately won three matches and fell in five. After two singles wins, the Elis’ third victory came from the doubles pairing of Martinelli and captain Sunday Swett ’18 who won a nail-biter that went to a tiebreaker.
After squaring off with their Ivy opponent, the Bulldogs concluded the first day with three games of doubles against Minnesota, in which Martinelli and Swett again proved to be a winning combination, nabbing the Bulldogs’ lone doubles victory over the Golden Gophers.
On the second day, however, the Bulldogs struggled against a dominant UMass squad. Martinelli trounced her opponent, 6–2, 6–0, but Yale managed no other victories against the Minutewomen in singles or doubles.
The Elis returned in the final day of competition to play six singles matches against Minnesota and rebounded with four wins. Martinelli dropped her second set but roared back 6–1 in the third to clinch the win, and Amy Yang ’19 and Caroline Amos ’19 each won in two sets. The most thrilling match of the day, however, was Zordani’s. She narrowly won her first set, dropped her second 6–0 and then pulled through in the third set in a 7–6 tiebreaker.
“One of the main factors in my success on Sunday came from the fitness that we’ve been doing — extra sprints, extra time in the weight room, etc. — because it has helped me maintain my level of play, especially during a long match like that,” Zordani said.
Both teams start their indoor seasons in January, with the men scrimmaging Brown on Jan. 15 and the women taking on Fairfield on Jan. 21.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org