This weekend, the Yale men’s tennis team returned to the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center for the Yale MLK Invitational, welcoming players from three schools across the South.

The invitational ran from Friday to Monday, and the field included Vanderbilt University, the University of Memphis and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The teams competed in individual play with no team scores. Yale and Memphis opened the invitational on Friday, with rookie Vignesh Gogineni ’26 boasting a formidable straight-set win of 6–4, 6–2 over Memphis’ Jeremy Taylor.

“Our team definitely succeeded with effort and determination as most matches this weekend were very close and hard fought,” Gogineni said. “But, I think one area the team could improve is consistency within our own routines and levels, along with energy across the board.”

Though the Bulldogs posted no other wins on Friday, Theo Dean ’24 and Aidan Reilly ’25 came close to clinching their doubles match, falling 5–7 to Pablo Alemany Malea and Pau Fanlo.

Dean and Renaud Lefevre ’24 fell in the third set of their singles matches, marking scores of 6–1, 6–7 (5), 4–6 and 6–2, 4–6, 3–6 respectively.

On Saturday, the Blue and White took on Charlotte. Michael Sun ’23, Luke Neal ’25 and Walker Oberg ’25 posted straight-set singles wins, with Sun toppling Charlotte’s Vasco Prata 6–4, 6–2, Neal defeating Matias Iturbe 6–3, 6–4 and Oberg beating Abhimanyu Vannemreddy 6–4, 6–4.

Neal and Gogineni earned a doubles win, dominating Iturbe and Ivan Dreycopp (6–3).

The Elis wrapped up the invitational on Sunday against Vanderbilt. Five of Yale’s seven lines of singles earned points. Senior Sun defeated Commodore Nathan Cox 6–1, 7–5, while rookie Gogineni beat Joubert Klopper 3–6, 6–4, 6–3. 

“Our team won six out of eight singles matches against Vanderbilt, even with players sick or out of the lineup,” Neal noted. “It was a good confidence booster to end the weekend and nice to have before we move into duels in two weeks.”

Neal drubbed Michael Ross 6–7 (4), 6–4, 3–1, Shervin Dehmoubed ’25 routed Macsen Sisam 6–4, 6–7 (8), 6–3 and Reilly thrashed Marcus Ferreira 6–1, 6–2.

The doubles duo of Lefevre and Dehmoubed defeated the Commodore team of Mitchell Deames and Ferreira 6–3.

“My personal highlight of the weekend was winning my doubles match with Shervin, because it was one of his first matches back after taking a semester off,” Lefevre said. “It was a lot of fun to be back on the court with him.”

The men will open their spring season on Jan. 28 versus Binghamton University in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. The team will play their first Ivy competition against Harvard University at home on April 7.

“I’m probably most looking forward to our match against Columbia,” senior Sun said. “One of my best friends growing up plays on their team and it will be special to compete against him one last time before I’m done with tennis.”

The Bulldogs will play Columbia University on April 22 in New York City. Sun ended last season, his penultimate, ranked at No. 111 nationally.

Ivy competition for the men will continue until April 29, when they will close out conference play against Brown University.

“I’m excited to see this group compete as a team,” said men’s head coach Chris Drake. “College tennis is very unique in that it’s really one of the only times these players will compete as a group. Juniors, fall season and any out of season competitions are all individual and team matches are a completely different animal. The intensity of the competition is much higher and it really shows who the toughest competitors are. We feel that we can put out a very tough, competitive group.”

Yale’s women’s tennis team will kick off spring competition this Saturday against Quinnipiac in Cullman-Heyman.

The Bulldogs last played at the Dartmouth Invitational in November, where Sophia Zaslow ’26, Jamie Kim ’25 and captain Chelsea Kung ’23 earned singles victories.

“I’m really looking forward to all of our Ivy matches because I’ve heard the energy is unmatched,” said rookie Ann Wright Guerry ’26. “Over break, I tried to get as fit as possible so that I can make it through the long season.”

The Bulldogs will commence Ivy competition in Providence against Brown on April 1. While some players are gearing up for their first season of Ivy play, others are closing out their Yale careers.

I am most looking forward to our first Ivy match against Brown because it will be the last Ivy season I have with my teammates and playing for Yale,” Chelsea Kung ’23 said. “Over break, I mostly focused on enjoying the last moments I had as a tennis player, practicing with some friends I grew up playing tennis with, knowing that it was all of our last seasons of college tennis.”

The women’s squad will end Ivy play on April 23 against Cornell University at home. Kung ended last season ranked at No. 73 nationally.

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.