Dean Clinches to Seal Yale's Four-Match Unbeaten Streak Heading into Ivy Play
FLUSHING, N.Y. – In its last non-Ivy match of the season, the Yale men's tennis team impressed in a 5-2 triumph over St. John's on Saturday. Playing at the grandest of venues, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the U.S. Open and the Red Storm's home turf, the Elis put in a strong effort in singles to record its first victory of the season on a non-neutral surface away from home.
In addition to marking the team's maiden away win this season, the victory also gives No. 56 Yale (14-3, 0-0 Ivy) a four-match winning streak on the eve of conference play, which commences in one week's time. The Bulldogs have won ten of their last eleven matches. Saturday's win also signaled a reversal of fortunes for the Elis from last season, when the Bulldogs faltered in an extremely close match against St. John's, which ended in a 4-3 decision in favor of the Red Storm. In addition, the Bulldogs' 14-3 record through the 17 matches prior to the Ivy League stretch is an improvement on last season's 11-6 win-loss mark at this same juncture a year ago.
Saturday's outing at the National Tennis Center did not start out auspiciously for the Elis, however. St. John's quickly gained a win at No. 3 doubles, and while Yale's No. 2 pairing of junior Patrick Chase and senior John Huang evened the score with an 8-5 win over Michael-John Every and Vasko Mladenov, the Red Storm secured the doubles point when Mike Lampa and Valentin Mihai narrowly upset the No. 74 duo in the country of senior captain Daniel Hoffman and senior Marc Powers at No. 1 doubles, 8-6.
Despite the setback against a squad with a deep lineup, the Bulldogs' quiet confidence in singles play saw them over the finish line in the end. Fittingly, it was Hoffman, who lost in the deciding match against the Red Storm last season, who led Yale's strong comeback with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Lampa. Soon thereafter, freshman Martin Svenning's powerful showing at No. 4 singles against Mark Mozer gave Yale its first lead of the day. At No. 2 singles, Powers extended the Elis' lead by fending off a stern challenge from Mihai to post a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 victory. Senior Zachary Dean, one of Yale's most in-form players at the moment, then clinched the Bulldog victory by besting Every 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Dean's steady performance under pressure earned him his seventh win in his last eight matches.
In the fifth singles match to finish, freshman Jason Brown struggled in the opening set against Hugo Morth but remained resilient to mount a superb comeback and record a 0-6, 6-1, 7-6 triumph. Meanwhile, at the No. 1 spot, Mladenov ensured that St. John's would not go away empty-handed in singles by overcoming Huang in an extremely hard-fought affair, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. This battle of the No. 1 players was a rematch of their clash back in September at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Collegiate Invitational, from which Huang had narrowly emerged victorious, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4). Mladenov is now on a nine-match winning streak, though Huang is the first player to take a set off Mladenov during his unbeaten run.
The seven remaining matches in Yale's season are all against Ancient Eight opponents. The Bulldogs will begin their quest for an Ivy League title on Saturday, Apr. 6, when they face No. 52 Princeton at home. The Elis will also host Penn on Sunday, Apr. 7.
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Mike Lampa/Valentin Mihai (St. John's) def. Daniel Hoffman/Marc Powers (Yale), 8-6
2. Patrick Chase/John Huang (Yale) def. Michael-John Every/Vasko Mladenov (St. John's), 8-5
3. Hugo Morth/Mark Mozer (St. John's) def. Zachary Dean/Matt Saiontz (Yale), 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 2, 6, 5, 1
1. Mladenov (St. John's) def. Huang (Yale), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6
2. Powers (Yale) def. Mihai (St. John's), 6-4, 6-7, 6-2
3. Hoffman (Yale) def. Lampa (St. John's), 6-2, 6-4
4. Martin Svenning (Yale) def. Mozer (St. John's), 7-6, 6-3
5. Jason Brown (Yale) def. Morth (St. John's), 0-6, 6-1, 7-6
6. Zachary Dean (Yale) def. Every (St. John's), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4