After a two-and-a-half-month hiatus from competition, Yale tennis swung back into action this weekend as the men’s team played in the East Coast Challenge and the women’s team dominated against Fairfield University.
The Bulldog men traveled to West Point, New York for the East Coast Challenge, where they took on three foes across two days. The Elis finished the competition 2–1, succumbing only to Florida Atlantic on the last day after securing victories over Santa Clara and Army. Meanwhile, the women’s team remained in New Haven and claimed a monopolizing win against in-state rival Fairfield; the Bulldogs dropped only a single set in all 10 matches.
On the opening day of competition, the Bulldogs faced off against Santa Clara and Army, and secured a pair of victories, defeating them 4–2 and 4–0, respectively.
Against Santa Clara, all three doubles matches went to tiebreak, with the Elis prevailing 7–6 each time to win the doubles point. To earn the required four points to win, three singles victories helped boost the Bulldogs over the Broncos as both No. 5 Ryan Cheng ’20 and No. 6 Fedor Andrienko ’18 defeated their opponents in straight sets 6–4 6–2 and 7–6 7–5 respectively. Captain and No. 3 Stefan Doehler ’18 secured the victory for the Elis in a comeback win 4–6 7–5 6–3.
That same Saturday, Yale also took on Army, shutting out the Black Knights 4–0. In doubles, the No. 1 pair of Andrienko and Doehler won 6-1, while No. 3 Nathan Brown ’19 and Dylan King ’20 defeated their opponents to clinch the doubles point. Building momentum, the Elis sealed the deal with straight-set wins by Cheng, Andrienko and Brown. Overall, the Elis flourished over the course of an opening day packed with competition.
“If we can keep up the intensity that we played with over the weekend for the entire season then we’ll be well prepared for the battles that we’ll face during the Ivy League season,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “We have as strong a talent as any other Ivy team, so if we compete well and are playing our best tennis by April then we’ll be in the hunt for the Ivy League title.”
However, on the second day, Yale fell to Florida Atlantic 4–2 in a close contest. Doubles opened the competition, and the Bulldogs split the opening games, losing at No. 3 before rebounding with a win at No. 1. With the doubles point at stake, Cheng and Andrew Heller ’20 battled their opponents to a 5–5 deadlock, before the Owl partnership pulled away to triumph over the Elis 7–5, earning the doubles point.
In singles, No. 6 Andrienko defeated Stefani 6–2, 6–3 to even the score and add another tally to Andrienko’s three-match winning streak. No. 5 Dylan King also won in straight sets 6–2, 6–4, to put the Bulldogs ahead. But the Owls responded well, winning the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 matchups to secure the victory. Despite the loss, the Elis played well and their strong opening act bodes well for the rest of the season.
Against Fairfield on Sunday, the Elis swept the competition with a 7–0 victory over the Stags. The team won all seven of the singles matches, spearheaded by No. 1 Samantha Martinelli ’21, who lost only a single game to her opposite number, finishing with a 6–1, 6–0 victory. Similarly, No. 3 Amy Yang ’19 lost just a single set in her dominating 6–1, 6–0 win.
“My strategy was mainly maintaining focus through the whole match and not giving any points away from sloppy errors,” Martinelli said. “I was definitely able to get through the match with hardly any breaks in concentration.”
No. 7 Sarah Cameron ’21 won her first match as a Bulldog, taking every game. Her 6–0, 6–0 finish helped lift the Bulldogs to their victory, along with a quartet of straight-set wins from teammates Valerie Shklover ’18, Elizabeth Zordani ’18, Caroline Amos ’19 and captain Sunday Swett ’18.
In doubles, Yale won two out of the three matches, enough to secure the doubles point allotted to the team that wins the best two out of three in the doubles matches. No. 1 partnership Martinelli and Shklover triumphed 6–1, while No. 3 Amos and Zordani matched that result with a 6–1 win of their own.
The competition continues for the Bulldogs next weekend as the men’s and women’s teams take on Ohio State and Quinnipiac, respectively.
Cate Sawkins | email@example.com