Yale Athletics

The Yale men’s tennis team capped a successful weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regionals on Sunday with three Bulldogs punching their tickets to the ITA Super Regionals later this month. With Theo Dean ’24 and Vignesh Gogineni ’26 having already qualified for the upcoming tournament, the Blue and White have now ensured that they will be well represented when they travel down to Princeton in two weeks for the Super Regionals.

“I think the biggest takeaway is that this team has the chance to do something special this year,” said head coach Chris Drake. “Yale men’s tennis hasn’t qualified for the NCAA tournament in a long time and we can do it. It’s a challenging goal but definitely achievable.”

This past weekend, Jim Ji ’27, Aidan Reilly ’25 and Eric Li ’26 led the charge, and all three were able to build off of their strong performances at the Penn Invitational last month.

First year Jim Ji came into Yale as a five-star recruit and the 2023 USTA Boys’ 18s National Clay Court Champion, and he has lived up to the billing. Drake said that Ji’s coachability, determination and focus set him apart on the court. The coaching staff has also been impressed by Ji’s commitment and professionalism in his day-to-day approach to the game. 

Ji credits his success thus far to the tremendous amount of time that he and the team have spent honing their skills, whether in the gym, on the track or on the court. He said that Drake and the upperclassmen have also helped him greatly in the transition to college tennis.

“Coach Drake has helped me pick out areas of improvement in my game, and he has also given me a ton of support and guidance during my first weeks here, whether that is for tennis or academics,” Ji told the News. “Likewise, my teammates have also been a great help. They have advised me on how to choose classes and also welcomed me wholeheartedly onto the team. I am very excited to see what the next four years hold.”

Meanwhile, Eric Li ’26 said he is looking to improve off of a solid first-year campaign in which he posted a 7–5 singles record and earned ITA Scholar Athlete Recognition. Li said that one of his major takeaways from last season was finding a way to put in extra work in addition to the required practices. So far, this year’s team has found ways to push past their limits. 

“Everyone is motivated to improve, so this year we are pushing very hard in the fall,” Li said. “We added extra lift and fitness days and it has paid off for us to start the season. As the season ramps up, we want to continue raising the standard of our practices and demand more from each other every single day so that it translates into our competitions.”

Aidan Reilly ’25 was the third Eli to secure a spot in the Super Regional tournament later this month. Reilly has been a consistent force for the Bulldogs in his first two seasons and has started off hot in his junior year. Drake attributed this to Reilly’s improved conditioning and practice standards. 

Overall, Drake said he has high expectations for this year’s team, which he based those off of the raised standard that the players have set for themselves. 

“This is a connected team with shared goals of elevating our program,” Drake told the News. “The guys have set a goal of trying to reach the NCAA tournament in May and they have a clear understanding of what it will take on a day-to-day basis to give us a chance to get there. The guys are holding each other to a higher standard and we need this to continue for the rest of the semester and into next year.”

On the Bulldog’s schedule, the ITA Super Regional will be followed by the Georgia Tech Invitational on Nov. 3.