The Yale men’s and women’s tennis teams got back to work in New Haven this past weekend, with the women reaching the final of the ECAC Indoor Championships and the men giving their all against a tough Minnesota team for a 0–7 defeat.
The Bulldogs (4–2, 0–0 Ivy) took on UMass (3–5, 1–0 A10), Penn (3–4, 0–0 Ivy) and Columbia (6–2, 0–0 Ivy) in the championship tie, while the Yale men’s tennis team (2–1, 0–0 Ivy) battled Minnesota (5–2, 0–0 Big 10). The women started things off with a bang, rolling through the Minutewomen 4–0 in a swift victory. Yale’s No. 1 singles player Samantha Martinelli ’21 breezed past Anna Napaidy of UMass 6–0, 6–1 to set the tone for the match. The Bulldogs dropped just five total singles games and two doubles games in what was a resounding 4–0 success.
Next, the Elis were met by the Penn Quakers. First year Chelsea Kung ’23 notched an impressive 6–3, 6–0 win at the No. 2 singles spot against Ashley Zhu, followed by fellow first year Rena Lin’s ’23 gutsy 7–6(2), 6–0 victory against Sonia Tartakovsky at No. 4. The team of sophomore Jessie Gong ’22 and Martinelli took care of business at No. 1 doubles, winning 6–3, before Lin and Kung clinched the point with a 6–4 victory at the No. 2 spot. The match finished 4–1 in favor of the Bulldogs.
“This weekend was really fantastic for the team,” Martinelli said. “We fought hard from start to finish and really proved that we are capable of competing with the best teams. I’m so excited to use the confidence and energy we brought this weekend to the upcoming matches.”
With the win against the Quakers, all that remained for Yale was the championship matchup against Ancient Eight foe Columbia. The Bulldogs jumped out early in the doubles point, with Martinelli and Gong dominating Akanksha Bhan and Paulina Ferrari 6–1 at the No. 1 position. Captain Caroline Dunleavy ’21 and first year Rhea Shrivastava ’23 wrapped things up at the No. 3 spot by besting Jennifer Kerr and Shivani Amineni 6–3.
“Overall, it was a really great weekend and everyone competed so well,” Shrivastava said. “Even in the final, every match was so close and we left everything we had on the court. Getting to the finals of such a big tournament gives us a lot of confidence because we know that all our hard work in practice is really paying off. We are also even more excited to get back to practice and keep working hard so that we are even stronger when it comes time for the Ivy season.”
Despite the Bulldogs’ successes, the Lions roared back in the singles, with Martinelli falling in a three-set heartbreaker to Bhan. Kung kept Yale’s hopes alive with a clutch 7–6, 6–2 win at No. 2, and Lin overcame a set deficit to take her No. 4 tie 3–6, 6–4, 6–4. The match was ultimately decided by the No. 5 singles, where sophomore Raissa Lou ’22 gave it all she had but fell to Amineni 6–1, 6–7, 4–6 in a three-set slugfest. The Bulldogs lost 3–4 but posted a great effort to secure impressive runner-up recognition.
The final scoreline betrayed the amount of fight displayed by the Yale men’s tennis team on Sunday. Three of the six singles matches were decided dramatically in a third-set tiebreaker.
At the No. 1 spot, captain Dylan King ’20 battled Stefan Milicevic, falling 7–5, 5–7, 0–1 (5). Similarly, sophomore Michael Sun ’22 battled back from a set down to take the second set 7–6, but ultimately lost 4–6, 7–6, 0–1 (4). The final bit of drama came at the No. 5 singles spot, where junior Cody Lin ’21 battled Bodin Zarkovic to a third set breaker, eventually falling 5–7, 7–6, 0–1 (9). Ultimately, the head-to-head went 7–0 in favor of the Golden Gophers.
“Although we played a subpar doubles point, we showed good fighting spirit in singles, where we fell just a few points short in a number of matches,” King said. “It’s useful to get experience against a good team like that to prepare us for ECACs next weekend.”
The men enter the ECAC Tournament this weekend, while the women face Marshall and Indiana.
Eamonn Smith | email@example.com