Akshar Argawal, Staff Reporter

Despite the Ivy League’s ruling to cancel athletic competition through the end of the calendar year, all three of the Yale men’s tennis recruits elected to come on campus. The squad’s newest members replace all of the graduated seniors and will be joined by two upperclassmen on campus as the Bulldogs gear up to commence Phase II of Yale Athletics’ reopening plan.

These three first years boast strong credentials: all three are five-star recruits from California. This marks the first recruiting class for head coach Chris Drake and assistant coach Alex Steinroeder, who joined Yale last year following their departure from Dartmouth.

“Coaches Drake and Stein did an incredible job bringing in three first years that will clearly make an immediate impact on the success of Yale men’s tennis,” Daniel Gale ’23 said in regard to the new recruits.

Theo Dean ’24, ranked No. 26 in the nation last year according to Tennis Recruiting, started playing tennis at a very young age. However, he did not play in his first national tournament until ninth grade. Despite the relatively late start, Dean prospered. He credits not burning out to his unwavering hunger for the sport.

Dean had previously spoken with coaches Drake and Steinroeder while they were coaches at Dartmouth, and when he received an offer from Yale, after the coaches had switched over, it was too hard to pass up.

“I had been talking to [Drake] for a long time already; the number one thing was the coaches, but I also just loved the team,” Dean said. “I definitely did consider taking a gap year and even though it’s online I decided I wanted to get my feet wet with college. Although it’ll be different, I figured I could make the most of the year.”

Shervin Dehmoubed ’24, ranked as high as No. 38 in the nation, began playing competitive tennis at the young age of 4. Dehmoubed quickly made a name for himself after playing at an academy in Spain and traveling all over the U.S. for national tournaments.

Dehmoubed’s decision to come to Yale was driven by both the academic and cultural offerings at Yale, in addition to the prowess of the coaching staff.

“I considered taking a year off but then I felt like I could still make the most of tennis and learning and meeting new people,” Dehmoubed said. “Instead of delaying my whole experience I can just start it right now.”

Renaud Lefevre ’24, ranked No. 45 in the nation last year, rounds out this year’s class. Coach Drake told Yale Athletics that Lefevre is “an aggressive player with a lot of potential to continue developing in college.”

Despite the implications of COVID, all three first years eventually decided to come on campus rather than further delaying their college starts. Older players have chosen a variety of paths: Michael Sun ’23 is currently taking a leave of absence, and Alan Sou ’21 remains enrolled but is currently in Hong Kong.

As for the current state of tennis, there are different phases and restrictions on what can be done. Athletes such as Dean have not gone this long without training seriously or in a regimented manner since they began playing their respective sports.

Courtesy of Sam Rubin ’95

“Right now it’s formally just conditioning,” Dehmoubed said. “We as players are doing everything we can and the coaches are trying to keep us in shape. Very soon we’ll be allowed to play tennis two hours a day, six days a week. I’m not sure how it’ll be divided, but we’ll be able to play some tennis and sign up for our own lifts.”

Captain Cody Lin ’21 and Arnav Dhingra ’22 join the three first years as the five enrolled members of the tennis team commence Phase II of Yale Athletics’ reopening plan.

Akshar Agarwal | akshar.agarwal@yale.edu