The Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams began their fall slate this past weekend, participating in a trio of tournaments held concurrently in four different locations. The men’s team took on fierce competition — including NCAA D1 No. 2 Texas and No. 16 Columbia — at Princeton and at home as part of the Ivy Plus Tournament. The women’s team split off and traveled to the Marliss Gruver Fall Invitational in Auburn, Alabama and the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
This triad of tournaments served as the first test for both teams. The men’s team came off their 2018–19 campaign with disappointment after posting a winless mark in Ivy League play. With two new faces — head coach Chris Drake and assistant coach Alex Steinroeder — at the helm, the Bulldogs hit the ground running this year. The women’s team, which posted a winning record in their 2018–19 season, faces new challenges in this year’s campaign. The team is without any seniors and has a new assistant coach, Ellyse Hamlin.
Entering the Ivy Plus Tournament, Drake said he was more concerned with learning about his players than about the final outcomes of every match.
“This event is mostly about getting guys back into competition,” Drake told the News prior to the tournament. “The format is pretty loose where we are pairing players against players of other teams that are similar level on each day.”
Still, the team shone on multiple fronts. The tandem of Michael Sun ’22 and Dylan King ’20 won the majority of their matches as a duo at Princeton, losing just one tightly-contested match against Harvard. The Arnav Dhingra ’22 and Cody Lin ’21 pair went undefeated over the weekend at home. The team saw continued success in singles play, with a multitude of wins coming in at both sites from various players. There were quite a few three set matches at home, but the Bulldogs showed they could handle the pressure as they closed those out.
Notably, Louis Siegler ’23 won a match 5–7, 6–4, 16–14 on Friday against Pete Siozios of Boston University. Lin also came back to win in a three-set match after dropping the first set 2–6 against Brown. Despite a few losses, the Elis showed they are a force to be reckoned with and aim to improve on last year’s winless mark in Ancient Eight play.
The women’s tournaments pitched players against each other in a round robin, ignoring team scoring. In Auburn, the duo of Raissa Lou ’22 and Rhea Shrivastava ’23 marched to the championship of their flight while dropping just seven games in the process. In singles play, Kathy Wang ’22 won her group with three straight victories. Overall, the Bulldogs had a strong showing.
In Ann Arbor, the Elis saw continued success. Samantha Martinelli ’21 won three straight matches against highly-ranked opponents, dropping just a single set in three days. She defeated the No. 116 from Notre Dame in a tight three-set match on Friday, then proceeded to bulldoze her way through the competition in the subsequent days, beating the No. 47 and No. 75 players in the process. The team shined in doubles as well, winning all six of their matches. Jessie Gong ’22 and Martinelli combined forces and dominated their competition, backing up the duo’s ranking as No. 29 in the country. Captain Caroline Dunleavy ’21 and Chelsea Kung ’23 formed a new partnership and saw similar success, going undefeated this past weekend.
“Being the first tournament of the fall I thought the girls did an excellent job competing and fighting for every match,” Hamlin said. “Going forward I think we can do a better job with how we handle big points, but I am really excited to keep making progress with this team.”
The women’s team will host the Bulldog Invitational this weekend, and the men’s next joust will be at the Dartmouth Invitational on Oct. 4.
Akshar Agarwal | email@example.com