Yale Athletics

Though a winless mark in Ivy League play in the 2018–2019 season cast a shadow over the Yale men’s tennis team, the Bulldogs are marching into their 2019–20 campaign with hopes of bouncing back. Despite winning 11 of 24 matches last season, the Elis failed to pick up a victory in Ancient Eight competition, ending the season with seven straight losses.

The Elis welcome some new changes heading into the season, some of which will hopefully help turn the tides and allow the team to notch its first Ivy win since April 2017. Specifically, the squad brings in a trio new faces: Daniel Gale ’23, Robert Shymansky ’23 and Louis Siegler ’23.

In addition to its first-year class, Yale is shaking up its coaching staff. After manning the helm for 27 years, former head coach Alex Dorato stepped down at the end of last season. Dorato finished as the winningest coach in Yale tennis history, racking up 344 victories.

“The future of Yale tennis looks very bright,” Dorato said as his parting words.

Taking up the mantle is former Dartmouth head coach Chris Drake, whose reputation precedes him. Coming in from Hanover — where he brought the Big Green to the NCAA tournament three times, obtaining one Ancient Eight crown in the process while being named a two-time Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2018 — Drake hopes to continue that tradition of success in New Haven. Joining him as the new assistant coach is Alex Steinroeder, who served on Drake’s staff last season.

“[Alex was] a huge asset to me during my last year at Dartmouth,” Drake said. “[He] is a unique combination of smarts, interpersonal skills and internal motivation. I look forward to Alex contributing in all aspects of our program here at Yale on and off the court.”

Steinroeder also spent time with the ATP, working directly with professional tennis players. Prior to that, he played for the Harvard men’s tennis team before graduating in 2015.

The team also returns some familiar faces from last season, having lost only two seniors from a year ago. Returning are a set of seasoned veterans; all six singles starters and five of the six doubles players, including second-team All-Ivy selection Dylan King ‘20, who is excited to welcome the new additions to the team.

“There are obviously going to be some changes anytime you get a new head coach,” King said. “There’s going to be a learning experience on both sides, feeling some things out, but coach Drake is bringing in a history of success from his time at Dartmouth and we’re excited for the new season.”

A couple bulldogs took the court as participants in the ATP Oracle Challenger Series event last week in New Haven. Michael Sun ‘22 — who missed all seven Ivy matches in 2019 — and King were both wildcard recipients at this year’s tournament. Although both lost first-round matches, the pair put up a solid fight in this pro-level event that featured players such as Jack Sock and Steve Johnson.

The Bulldogs will take the court to open up their season on Sept. 20 in the Ivy Plus tournament, held concurrently at Princeton and Yale. Recently, the Elis’ Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center underwent renovations for brand new outdoor courts.

Akshar Agarwal | akshar.agarwal@yale.edu