Akshar Agarwal

The Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams concluded their fall seasons this past weekend with successful tournaments across New England.

The male Bulldogs took on fierce regional competition in the Connecticut State Championships hosted at Yale. The three-day tournament saw the Elis fight hard in long matches, forcing numerous tiebreakers and third sets. While the Bulldogs struggled in doubles, the team excelled in the singles competition. Meanwhile, the women’s team traveled to Hanover to compete in the Dartmouth Invitational. The Bulldogs dominated the court, winning a large majority of singles and doubles matches alike. The tournament wraps a very successful fall campaign for the Elis, who will look to expand on this success in their spring season.

“We won a lot of close matches this weekend, which is good competitive preparation for the dual season” captain Dylan King ’20 said. “The next few months give us time to keep working on our games so we can be ready for the spring.”

The men played for the first time since competing in the ITA Regionals at Penn. The first years showed they have adjusted well, posting moderate success in Philadelphia that continued into New Haven while the usual stars continued to shine.

At home, the Bulldogs’ fall preparations were put to the test against fierce competition, including Dartmouth, Boston College and Fairfield University. The three first years, Daniel Gale ’23, Robby Shymansky ’23 and Louis Siegler ’23 performed notably well. Despite having relatively little experience with college tennis, they showed grit and pulled out hard-fought wins expected of veterans.

Gale won his first match 6–3, 6–4 against an opponent just down Whitney Avenue from Quinnipiac. Although he fell 7–5, 6–2 in his second match, Gale bounced back to win his third round match 3–6, 6–3, 6–2. He handled the pressure well, asserting his dominance early in the second set to get the break before cruising toward victory.

Shymansky dominated his first-round match, winning 6–4, 6–3. Although he dropped his second match under a reversal of that scoreline, Shymansky won a nailbiter in the third round. He dropped the first set 3–6, then fought fiercely to force a tiebreaker in the second set, which he narrowly won 7–4. In the decisive third set, Shymansky showed that he would not crack under duress — he went to yet another tiebreak, fighting from a break behind, and won it 7–5 for a final scoreline of 3–6, 7–6, 7–6.

“It’s been great to finally compete with a Yale jersey on,” Shymansky said. “All of us first years will continue to improve as we get more matches under our belts.”

Although Siegler dropped his first match of the tournament 7–6, 6–7, 2–6, he bounced back to win a subsequent three-set thriller. Despite dropping the first set 2–6, he fought hard to collect the next two sets 6–3, 6–4. On day three, he cruised to a 6–2, 6–3 victory.

In addition to the first years, the veteran Bulldogs also showed their on-court prowess. Michael Sun ’22 won two of his matches in straight sets, losing only his second-round match to Dartmouth’s Peter Conklin, a Connecticut native who played at Hopkins School. Sun lost that match by a single break in each set, falling 6–4, 6–4.

Captain King started the tournament off with a 1–6 first-set loss, but proceeded to find his rhythm as he claimed the next set 6–3 before sending the third set to a tiebreaker at 6–6. King remained calm and collected as he saved several match points before persevering to claim an 11–9 victory.

Senior Andrew Heller ’20 played just one match, winning 7–6, 6–4. Cody Lin ’21 won two of his three matches with each one requiring a deciding third set. Other players such as Arnav Dhingra ’22, Camille Kima ’21 and Alan Sou ’21 also proved that they can handle the pressure as they saw multiple third-set matches.

In doubles play, the Bulldogs tried some new pairings and saw limited success. The established duo of King and Sun won two of its three matches. The other players bounced around; the pair of Siegler and Shymansky was unwinning, but the team responded by switching things up. Siegler later teamed up with Lin and proceeded to split their two matches. Gale and Shymansky lost both of their matches, the second one being a tight 6–7 (6–9) loss to a veteran duo from the Big Green.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of the Bulldogs’ matches this past weekend went to three sets, but the players buckled down and proved they can handle the pressure.

On the women’s side, the Elis are coming off of a strong performance at the ITA Regionals — held in mid-October — which saw captain Caroline Dunleavy ’21 reach the semi-finals of the singles draw and the finals in doubles alongside partner Rhea Shrivastava ’23.

In Hanover, the female Bulldogs got off to a great start. Lauren Gillinov ’21, Chelsea Kung ’23, Raissa Lou ’22 and Shrivastava wasted little time, winning their singles matches in straight sets.

Meanwhile, matches featuring Rena Lin ’23 and Kathy Wang ’22 came down to the wire, with both pulling out hard-fought third-set wins. Lin finished her third set 12–10 while Wang finished 11–9. Vivian Cheng ’23 lost a back-and-forth match, falling 1–6, 6–2, 6–1.

In doubles, Yale won three of its four matchups; the pairings of Lin and Kung, Lou and Shrivastava, and Cheng and Wang all won their respective matches. The duo of Sarah Cameron ’21 and Gillinov fell 6–1.

“This season has been really great so far,” Shrivastava added. “We’ve had some really good results at our last few tournaments and everyone has been working really hard during practice.”

The Elis saw continued success throughout the tournament. On day two, four singles players collected straight-set victories. On the other hand, Shrivastava pulled out a marathon 2–6, 7–6, 6–3 victory over her opponent from the Big Green. Dunleavy teamed up with Cheng and cruised to a 6–2 victory over a duo from UMass.

On day three, Yale continued to shine. Four Bulldogs fended off competition from St. John’s University. Both Cheng and Shrivastava captured singles wins after their opponents retired and Wang cruised to another two-set victory. Lou dug deep to win yet another three-set battle 5–7, 6–4, 12–10 after dropping the first set. Against an opponent from Dartmouth, Lin dropped the first set 4–6, but pulled out all the stops to win the following two sets 7–6, 11–9.

Both the Dartmouth Invitational and the CT State Championships marked the final tournaments of the Fall season for Yale’s tennis teams. The duo of Jessie Gong ’22 and Samantha Martinelli ’21 will compete in the ITA Fall Nationals later this week, while the rest of both the men’s and women’s teams will resume competition this January.

Akshar Agarwal | akshar.agarwal@yale.edu