TENNIS: Chelsea Kung ’23 topples nation’s top-ranked singles player
Chelsea Kung ’23 defeated the nation’s top-ranked singles player as Yale’s women’s tennis team bested Princeton and lost to Penn.
This week, both of Yale’s tennis teams continued conference play with matches against Princeton on Saturday and Penn on Sunday. Chelsea Kung ’23 clinched a decisive victory over the nation’s top-ranked singles player, Daria Frayman, against Princeton on Saturday.
The women’s tennis team (11–8, 2–1 Ivy) defeated Princeton (7–10, 2–1) in a tight 4–3 victory on Saturday in the Elm City. On Sunday, the squad suffered a 1–4 loss to Penn (12–8, 2–1) in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center.
Kung led the women in singles, followed by Caroline Dunleavy ’22, Mirabelle Brettkelly ’25, Jessie Gong ’22, Rhea Shrivastava ’23 and Vivian Cheng ’23. Kung and Gong headed the team in doubles, ahead of Kathy Wang ’22 with Dunleavy and Brettkelly with Shrivastava.
Contributing to the Bulldogs’ momentous win over the Tigers, Kung defeated the nation’s then top-ranked singles player, Daria Frayman, on Saturday. Kung’s two-set victory of 6–2, 7–5 toppled Frayman, who has been ranked No. 1 in the nation since March 23.
This victory pulled Frayman down to No. 3 and put Kung’s name on the list of the nation’s top 125 singles players, where she now sits at No. 71. Kung is the only member of Yale’s women’s team to crack the top 125 singles players this season. However, Kung briefly made the nation’s top 80 doubles teams with her partner Gong at No. 59 on March 9.
On Sunday, Frayman took on Brown’s (6–12, 0–3) Britany Lau, winning 6–3 and 6–2, the same score that Kung took against Lau the previous weekend.
Overall, Kung’s singles record now stands at 16–5, as compared to Frayman’s record of 20–7.
Standout matches for the Bulldogs this weekend also included Gong’s three-set victory (4–6, 6–1, 7–6) at No. 4 singles against Princeton and Cheng’s (6–3, 6–2) win over Penn at No. 6 singles.
Yale now stands at No. 59 in the national rankings. Princeton still leads the Ivy League at No. 50, followed by No. 63 Columbia and No. 72 Harvard.
“We learned this weekend that we can compete with any team and that every Ivy season match is very competitive,” women’s head coach Rachel Kahan said.
The men’s tennis team (9–9, 1–2) hit the road this weekend to challenge Princeton and Penn. On Saturday, the Bulldogs suffered a 2–5 loss to the Tigers (16–6, 2–1) before falling 2–5 to the Quakers on Sunday (16–4, 3–0).
Michael Sun ’23 led the men in singles, followed by Theo Dean ’24, Aidan Reilly ’25 and Cody Lin ’22. On Saturday, Lin was followed by Walker Oberg ’25 and Renaud Lefevre ’24, and, on Sunday, by Lefevre and Luke Neal ’25. Lefevre and Lin headed the team in doubles, ahead of Reilly with Dean and Sun with Neal.
Lin secured a tight two-set (7–6, 7–6) victory at No. 4 against the Tigers. Though the team ultimately suffered their first Ivy loss on Saturday, they successfully took the doubles point, winning at the second and third lines.
“We learned that we have a mentally tough team that is improving quickly,” men’s head coach Chris Drake said. “We are creating a good foundation for our program but also have a lot of hard work to do if we want to catch and pass these teams that are a bit ahead of us right now with their level.”
Neal’s highlight of the weekend was his 6–4 doubles victory with Sun. “It was the first time playing doubles in a while and I had a great time playing with Mike,” Neal said. Sun is currently ranked No. 114 nationally in singles.
Yale’s men’s team did not make the cut for the top 75 nation-wide rankings this week. No. 13 Harvard leads the Ivy League, followed by No. 25 Columbia, No. 39 Princeton, No. 42 Penn and No. 59 Cornell.
“As we near the final two weekends of conference play, I’m looking forward to facing more tough, veteran opponents and gaining experience through match play against these teams before summer,” first-year Reilly said.
This weekend, the men will host Cornell (14–6, 1–1) on Saturday and Columbia (11–6, 1–1) on Sunday in Cullman-Heyman. The women will hit the road to take on the Big Red (6–9, 2–1) in Ithaca on Saturday and the Lions (10–10, 0–3) in New York City on Sunday.
After losing both doubles points this weekend, the women’s team will be focusing on doubles as well as hoping to get playing time outdoors leading up to their next matches. According to Gong, the women’s team captain, the team will seek to improve confidence at the net and begin poaching more. Gong is most excited to “finish [her] tennis career competing for the Bulldogs with [her] best friends.”
After recovering from their tough weekend, the men’s team will get right back to work for the week ahead.
“The Ivy League is probably stronger than it has ever been in terms of depth and level at the top. It is great for our players to face this level of competition every weekend,” Drake said.
In preparation for their next match, the men’s team will watch film from the Princeton and Penn matches and target aspects of each player’s game that can be improved upon leading up to this weekend’s matches against two of the top teams in the league.