The Yale men’s tennis team heads into yet another weekend of matches, looking to build off of a strong win against Navy last Saturday.
Yale faces solely non-conference foes until the end of this month, when the Ivy season begins. Yale (3–6, 0–0 Ivy) took on Old Dominion (10–2, 0–0 C-USA), Navy (13–5, 0–0 Patriot League) and Western Michigan (11–5, 1–0 MAC) last weekend and have two more matches coming up Saturday. The Bulldogs take on NJIT (1–6, 0–0 ASUN) and Fairfield (5–3, 1–0 MAAC) in a weekend double-header. Yale is looking to turn the season around with two huge victories for the team’s momentum and morale.
“We’re looking forward to the double-header on Saturday before we head out to California for some outdoor matches,” co-captain Dylan King ’20 said. “After a busy schedule of matches with a short-handed team last weekend, our main focus right now is getting guys healthy and at full strength for the second half of the season.”
The Old Dominion tilt was a tough matchup against a team that is getting hot at the right time. The Big Blue stood at 9–2 on the year and made few mistakes against the Bulldogs. However, that is not to say the Elis did not give a great fight. Andrew Heller ’20 led his opponent by a set at the No. 2 singles spot before the overall match was clinched. In the doubles, the duo of Heller and Louis Siegler ’23 notched a 6–3 win at the No. 3 spot. Yale was also without King in the singles, and in the end, Old Dominion triumphed 4–0.
Refusing to be deterred by the previous day’s result, the Bulldogs bit back against Navy. The Elis took five of the six singles matches in what was one of the most dominant team performances that the Elis have given yet this year. Michael Sun ’22 led things off with a dramatic 7–6(4), 6–1 victory at the No. 1 singles spot. Robert Shymansky ’23 gave the Bulldogs a big-time boost at the No. 4 spot, winning 6–4, 6–4. Co-captain Ryan Cheng ’20 and Cody Lin ’21 combined at the No. 2 doubles spot to give Yale its only doubles win, a 6–2 victory. Yale came out on top overall 5–2 in the match.
“I think pressure and challenges are all an opportunity to rise,” Arnav Dhingra ’22 said. “As a team that’s what we need to focus on.”
Yale then faced Western Michigan, a team that has faced an increasingly tough schedule so far this year. The Broncos jumped out hungry for a win and left the Bulldogs chasing for most of the match. Shymansky and Sun both shone once more, with the latter tacking up yet another win at the No. 1 spot, defeating his opponent easily 6–0, 6–2, and the former cruising to a 6–2, 6–0 win at his No. 4 position. In the doubles, Heller and King ground out a 6–4 victory at the No. 2 spot. However, these stellar efforts were not enough to overcome the match deficit and Yale fell 2–4.
NJIT has been struggling so far this year and Yale can look to compound this misery by bringing its best effort on Saturday. The Highlanders have registered only a single win so far this season, with that victory coming against Fairleigh Dickinson in the middle of February. NJIT has lost three straight, so the team will be desperate to snap that streak against Yale. A common matchup is Yale’s recent opponent Navy, whom the Highlanders fell to 2–5.
While Fairfield has had a decidedly better season so far than NJIT, the Bulldogs are still very evenly matched with the team. Both Yale and the Stags have faced Brown this year, a matchup that led to two very different outcomes. The Bears dominated Fairfield 6–1, but only barely eked out a 4–3 win against the Elis. Fairfield has won two of its last three matches, but Yale’s closer match with Brown should give the Bulldogs encouragement that this will be a winnable affair.
The matches kick off in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
Eamonn Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org