Huang Leads Charge; Brown, Faierman and Svenning Also Make Finals
FLUSHING, N.Y. – In response to a mixed bag of results on the first day of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Collegiate Invitational, the Yale men's tennis team put on a stunning display on Saturday to emerge as one of the top squads in the tournament. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center seemed to bring out the best in the Bulldogs, as three singles players advanced to the final of their respective draws, with Yale's rookie doubles team following suit in its draw. Overall, the Elis won 15 out of the 22 matches they contested on Saturday.
Senior John Huang produced the highlight of the event thus far with a three-set marathon upset of St. John's Vasko Mladenov, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4). According to Alex Dorato, Cary Leeds Head Coach of Men's Tennis, this highly competitive and entertaining contest was by far the best match of the tournament as of Saturday. In the first set, Mladenov, who is the highest nationally-ranked player in the invitational at No. 38, grabbed the early break lead only for No. 113 Huang to win four consecutive games to snatch the set. Mladenov looked down and out midway through the second set, as Huang quickly rolled to a 5-2 lead. The No. 1 seed, however, composed himself to reel off five straight games to even the contest, saving two match points on Huang's serve in the process. Finally, after three sets of scintillating tennis, Huang completed the upset win by converting his fifth match point in the deciding set tiebreak. His reward is a final match-up with the No. 2 seed in the 'A' singles draw, Princeton's Matija Pecotic, who is ranked No. 67 nationally.
Huang was not the only Bulldog who had to engage in a three-set tussle for a spot in the final round. In the 'D' singles draw, freshman Jason Brown extended his winning streak to six with a hard-fought 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 victory over Jonathan Carcione of Princeton. It was Brown's third-consecutive three-set match, having gone the distance in his first two rounds as well. In the 'E' draw, sophomore Daniel Faierman, seeded at No. 1, maintained the positive trend of Bulldogs winning three-set battles with a 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 comeback win over Daniel Morgan of Columbia. Faierman's classmate and No. 2 seed Zachary Krumholz was defeated in his semifinal match by Dalen Klassen of Marist, 6-3, 6-3.
In doubles play, Yale's No. 4 seeded team of junior Kyle Dawson and Krumholz won its quarterfinal match against Fordham's Jan Krouham and JJ Tauil, 8-3, but fell in a tightly contested semifinal match against the No. 1 seeded tandem of Michael Lin and Benjamin Quazzo of Princeton, 8-6. The dynamic freshman duo of Brown and classmate Martin Svenning, seeded at No. 2 in the fourth doubles flight, indicated its readiness to live up to Yale's high doubles standards by making the finals of the fourth doubles draw. In the quarterfinals, the freshmen defeated Dartmouth's pairing of Justin Chan and Andres Isaka 8-1, and followed up this victory with a confidence-boosting 8-6 win over Princeton's No. 3 seeded team of Dan Davies and Dan Richardson.
Due to the tournament's commitment to ensuring all players get in substantial match play during the weekend, many of Yale's players who had been knocked out of their main draws were still in action Saturday. Senior captain Daniel Hoffman beat Army's Asika Isoh 6-4, 6-2. He nearly staged a massive comeback in his second match of the day, but ultimately fell short against Brown's Michael Riechmann, 6-2, 6-7(5), 1-0(5). Dawson scored a win over a Harvard opponent, Henry Steer, 6-3, 6-4, but then lost against St. John's Valentin Mihai, 6-4, 6-2. Svenning pulled double duty by defeating Dartmouth's Justin Chan 7-6(4), 6-3 and Fairfield's Erik Kemheller 6-0, 6-0. Senior Zachary Dean was also playing a 'D' draw consolation match, but came up short against Fordham's Emilio Mora, 6-3, 6-2. Finally, two Yale juniors scored three-set victories. Junior Patrick Chase overcame a slow start to beat Fairfield's Ofir Solomon, 1-6, 6-1, 1-0(3), while classmate Tommy Ratchford fended off a comeback by Fordham's Alex DiRienzo to win 6-2, 3-6, 1-0(8).
In consolation doubles matches, the Elis bounced back from Friday's three losses to show the collegiate circuit, and other Ivy League teams, that Yale will be a threat to win every doubles point come spring. Chase and Huang rebounded well with an 8-5 win over Army's team of Asika Isoh and Harrison McCormack. They were unable to defeat Columbia's pairing of Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur, however, losing 8-1. Yale's team of Faierman and Hoffman also fell short, succumbing to Marist's team of Lorenzo Rossi and Joris Van Eck, 8-6. The Bulldogs' team of Dean and Ratchford produced a pair of wins, however, first defeating St. Peter's Mario Huljev and Marko Knezevic 8-3, and then dispatching C. Begli and Jeremy Shuskus of Sacred Heart by a score of 8-4.
Sunday will be the final day of competition at the National Tennis Center, with play once again starting at 9 a.m. Brown, Faierman and Huang will be looking to seal wins in their respective singles draws, while Brown and Svenning will be looking to make a statement with a victory in their doubles draw.
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity