April 25, 2013

Exceptional Senior Class Features in Season Finale against Brown

Dean, Hoffman, Huang and Powers in Action for the Last Time

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Four talented seniors will play their final matches as Bulldogs on Saturday when the Yale men's tennis team takes on Brown (13-9, 2-3 Ivy) in the squad's final match of the 2012-13 season.  No. 57 Yale (17-6, 3-3 Ivy) will be looking to cap off its superb season with a finish at No. 4 in the Ivy League standings.  The match is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. at Yale's home courts.

The Elis currently trail No. 22 Harvard, No. 44 Columbia and No. 47 Princeton in the Ivy League standings, but a victory against Brown would ensure that the Bulldogs finish alone at the No. 4 spot, ahead of No. 52 Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and Penn.  Yale also seeks its tenth win at home this season.  What is more, Yale's four seniors—captain Daniel Hoffman, Zachary Dean, John Huang and Marc Powers—will be looking to finish off their illustrious Bulldog careers in grand fashion by leading their teammates to a resounding triumph one last time. 

Yale's No. 1 duo of Hoffman and Powers will head the Bulldogs' efforts in doubles, a role this team has filled consistently since the 2010-11 season.  This experienced tandem has been ranked nationally several times over the course of the past few years, and Saturday's match against the Bears will give the duo one last chance to showcase the talent that has made it one of the best doubles teams in the Ivy League, the Northeast region and the country.  At No. 2 doubles, Huang and junior Patrick Chase will be looking to capture their fourth win in league play this season.  Huang has proven to be a strong asset in doubles during his time at Yale, as he and Chase went on a seven-match tear during the middle of the 2011-12 season and have also had success this season.  In the fall, Chase and Huang defeated the No. 36 team in the nation en route to the final of the 'A' doubles draw of the Princeton-Farnsworth Invitational. 

That the four seniors occupy four of the top six singles spots on the roster underscores the unique strength of this class.  Over the course of his Yale career, Huang has steadily risen to the top of the lineup, as his powerful groundstrokes make him a threat to defeat any opponent.  Fittingly, Huang looks to be finishing off his senior year in style, as he enters his final match on a five-match winning streak, which includes wins over No. 68 Winston Lin of Columbia and Denis Nguyen of Harvard. 

Powers, playing at No. 2 singles, has been befuddling opponents with his aggressive and varied baseline game ever since he burst onto the collegiate tennis scene in his freshman season.  That year, he was named the Ivy League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, becoming the first player ever to be honored with both titles in the same season.  A win on Saturday would see Powers finish this year's Ivy League season with a 4-3 record. 

At No. 3 singles is Hoffman, who is perhaps Yale's most resilient competitor.  Armed with an imaginative array of shots and great mental toughness, Hoffman has proven time and time again that he can be relied upon to deliver a pivotal win for his team, even if it comes after three grueling sets.  Heading into his final match, Hoffman's career mark in conference play is an astounding 22-5, which includes his undefeated Ivy League record last year.

Rounding out the senior class is Dean, who has stepped up this season at No. 6 singles.  The highlight of his senior year came just two weeks ago when he heroically fended off two match points in a final-set tiebreaker to secure Yale's upset over Cornell.

In last year's match against Brown, the Elis fell in a 5-2 decision.  The Bulldogs gained a measure of revenge earlier this season, however, when they defeated the Bears 4-3 at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Indoor Team Championship.  That victory came about in unusual fashion for the Elis, as they narrowly won the doubles point before gaining just enough wins in singles play—three—to take the match.  Interestingly, it was none other than the trio of Hoffman, Huang and Powers that secured those three wins.  If the ECAC match is any indication, Saturday's clash promises to be an exciting finale for Yale and the team's four seniors.   

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity

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