The Yale men’s tennis team continued to struggle in a disappointing campaign as it fell to both its Ivy League challengers this weekend.
The Bulldogs (10–12, 0–6 Ivy) attempted to defend their home court against Cornell (10–10, 3–3) on Saturday, but came out on the losing side 4–2 after the Big Red used the singles competition to even the point total and then surpass the Elis. Looking to bounce back, the Bulldogs took another swing at victory against No. 16 Columbia (16–4, 5–1) the next day. However, the talented Lions prevailed 4–0, for the Elis’ sixth straight Ivy-loss.
“I’ve been incredibly proud of their fighting spirit in the face of adversity,” head coach Alex Dorato said. “They still go out every match and give it their all. In fact, this year’s team has made more dramatic comebacks than any previous team that I’ve coached.”
On Saturday, the Cornell match opened with a decisive Eli victory in the doubles competition. The Bulldogs successfully used the new doubles combinations to secure the doubles point after winning two of the three matches. At No. 1 Fedor Andrienko ’18 and Dylan King ’20 defeated their opponents 6–3, while at No. 3, the duo of Ryan Cheng ’20 and Ziqi Wang ’18 won their match by the same score.
But it was a different story in the singles competition. Cornell rebounded to clinch a victory in a series of singles wins. To start it off, No. 6 Alan Sou ’21 lost in straight sets 6–1, 6–1. Both No. 1 King and No. 3 Andrew Heller ’20 forced their first sets to tiebreakers, but came up short in both the tiebreakers and the second sets.
At the No. 2 spot, captain Stefan Doehler ’18 came back after falling in the first set to win the second set 6–4. However, in the third set, he fell 6–1 to mark the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive singles loss and make the score 4–1. That Cornell victory secured the win, but the No. 5 match featuring Andrienko continued to completion before the competition concluded. Andrienko prevailed with a 6–2, 6–4 win to mark the sole singles victory for the Elis.
“What’s kept us from equal success in singles as our doubles has been a record number of injuries,” Dorato said. “Our stud first year from southern California, Cody Lin, has been out all season, Ryan Cheng has been out of most of the spring with a bad back, and three other players are competing with injuries that put them at maybe 70 percent.”
The Elis reconvened on Sunday to take on Columbia, but came up short 4–0. In the doubles competition, the Elis could not replicate the same success seen against Cornell. No. 2 Doehler and Heller fell 6–2 followed by No. 1 Andrienko and King falling 6–3.
Moving on to singles, the Lions swept matches four, five and six to secure the victory for Columbia. At No. 6, Sou lost 6–2, 6–1, No. 5 Andrienko lost 6–0, 6–2 and No. 4 Wang fell 6–4, 6–1.
At the time the matches halted, No. 1 King was tied at five games a piece in the second set with national No. 22 Victor Pham after losing 7–5 in the first set. No. 2 Doehler was winning his second set 4–3 after he fell in the first set 6–4.
The losses against Cornell and Columbia mark the Elis’ fifth and sixth losses in the Ancient Eight. Looking at the rest of the league standings, after beating Princeton this weekend, Dartmouth has clinched at least a share of the Ivy title with a 6–1 record. If Columbia defeats Cornell next weekend, the Lions will share the title with the Big Green. If not, Dartmouth will be the sole Ivy champion.
“We’ll need to leave our previous matches behind us if we hope to beat Brown,” Doehler said. “They are a tough team, but we definitely have the capability to beat them, as we did back in February during ECACs.”
Yale plays its final match of the year against Brown on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Providence.
Cate Sawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org