This week, both of Yale’s tennis teams kicked off conference play with commanding wins over Brown University. 

The women’s tennis team (10–7, 1–0 Ivy) defeated Brown (6–10, 0–1) in a 4–1 win and the men clinched a 6–1 victory over the bears (9–9, 0–1). For the men, Sunday’s match marked the first Bulldog conference victory against an Ivy League team since 2017.

On the women’s side, Brown was successful in pushing some of the matches to third sets. However, Rhea Shrivastava ’23, Caroline Dunleavy ’22 and Vivian Cheng ’23 did not let the third set intimidate them. Shrivastava and Dunleavy clinched third set victories of 6–0 and 6–3, respectively, and Cheng was up 5–1 in the third set before being pulled once the Bulldogs secured their fourth point. 

“The Brown win was definitely a team effort. We started off well in doubles and in singles,” women’s head coach Rachel Kahan said. 

Dunleavy, the women’s team captain, noted her pride in how her team embraced the match and reflected all of the work that they have put in throughout the year.

Chelsea Kung ’23 led the women’s team in singles, followed by Dunleavy, Mirabelle Brettkelly ’25, Jessie Gong ’23, Shrivastava and Cheng. Kung and Gong played the first line of doubles, ahead of Brettkelly with Shrivastava and Kathy Wang ’22 with Dunleavy.

The Bulldogs clinched the doubles point from their wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. The Elis also took points from the first, second and fifth lines of singles.

Wang noted that her team’s match against Brown was the first ever conference match for the overwhelming majority of the team. Of the nine players on the team, only three have faced Ivy opponents in conference play in previous seasons. She highlighted how her teammates did a great job of taming their nerves and excitement in order to secure their win. 

Wang’s personal highlight of the match was when she and her partner Dunleavy “battled back from getting broken with quadruple match point to winning the next game at love” as it showcased their grit and resilience.

In Providence, Michael Sun ’23 led the men’s team in singles against the Bears, followed by Theo Dean ’24, Aidan Reilly ’25, Cody Lin ’22, Walker Oberg ’25 and Renaud Lefevre ’24. Lefevre and Lin led the team in doubles, ahead of Reilly with Dean and Oberg with Sun.

Reilly and Dean eked out a 7–6 victory at the second line of doubles, taking the doubles point for the Bulldogs. Only Brown’s third line of singles was able to win over Yale.

“I’m most looking forward to getting the chance to compete in high-level college tennis against many ranked teams,” Luke Neal ’25 said. Going into the rest of the season, he expects his team to focus on playing “fearless tennis” in order to dominate against ranked Ivy League squads. 

Currently, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown are the only teams in the conference not ranked in the ITA’s top 75 Poll. Harvard leads the Ivy League at No. 15, followed by Columbia at No. 22, Princeton at No. 34, Penn at No. 46 and Cornell at No. 59.

On the women’s side however, the Bulldogs cracked into the national rankings at No. 67. They are joined in the rankings by Princeton at No. 47 and Columbia at No. 58.

This weekend, the women will host Princeton (6–9, 2–0) on Saturday and Penn (10–8, 0–1) on Sunday. The men will hit the road and take on Princeton (14–6, 0–1) on Saturday and Penn (14–4, 1–0) on Sunday.

“Princeton and Penn are both very tough opponents, and we will be focusing on what we have all season and that is just continuing to improve every time we step on the court,” Kahan said.

This week, the teams will practice outside and indoors, watch film from their conference-opener matches and focus on collaborating as a team and continuing to push one another to improve on the court. 

Grayson Lambert is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College from Atlanta, double-majoring in Applied Mathematics and Economics. She covers tennis, men's ice hockey, and crew.