NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After snapping a two-game losing streak with a hard-fought comeback 4-3 win over St. John's this past Saturday, the Yale men's tennis team will open its Ivy League season this weekend. The Bulldogs will face stiff competition in No. 33 Dartmouth and No. 28 Harvard. On Friday, Yale will host Dartmouth in its home opener at 1:00 pm before traveling to Boston to battle Harvard away on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. With the Ivy League very competitive this year, the Elis enter league play well-rested and with an opportunity to establish themselves as title contenders against the two highest-ranked teams in the conference.
Despite a strong record, Dartmouth enters the match after a difficult loss to open conference play, with Harvard sweeping the Big Green 4-0. The team has lost five of its last seven after beginning the season 12-0 and capturing the ECAC Indoor Championship title, ranking as high as No. 14 in the nation. Yale and Dartmouth last met about a year ago in a similar fixture, with Yale falling 4-1 after remaining close throughout a tough match. While star Bulldog and No.1 singles player Tyler Lu graduated this past May, the young Yale team has gained a lot of experience, with sophomore star and current No. 1 singles player Dylan King dominating recently. Strong supporting play from fellow sophomores Andrew Heller and Ryan Cheng, at No. 2 and No. 6 singles respectively, and effective senior leadership from No. 1 doubles players Fedor Andrienko and Stefan Doehler offer encouraging signs for the Bulldogs – though the latter duo will have their hands full with the Big Green's No. 1 doubles combo, Charlie Broom and David Horneffer, which is ranked 49th in the country.
After losing 4-1 to Dartmouth during the ECAC Championships, Harvard rebounded in a big way in its last matchup, coming out on top with a 4-0 win, its third straight win. With an overall record of 17-3 and a home record of 10-0, the Crimson present an even tougher matchup for the Bulldogs. In the last matchup between these two squads, around the same time last year, the Elis fell 4-2 in a tight match. With Harvard No. 1 doubles player Brian Yeung graduating and both Yale and Harvard's No.1 singles players graduating as well, both No.1 matchups will play a large role in the match. Andrienko and Doehler will again face difficult opposition, as Kenny Tao and Logan Weber are ranked 77th in the country, though the Yale duo topped Harvard's No. 1 doubles pair – which was ranked 60th – last year. With a shakeup in the lower seeded singles matchups from this past year, these matches will also play a key role.
The Elis' six-game winning streak earlier this year showed many flashes of the level of performance they will hope to carry into conference play. With the Harvard-Yale rivalry likely drawing a large Crimson crowd, these two matches will test not only the Bulldogs' prospects of winning an Ivy League Championship, but also the composure of young star players who are growing up quickly.
Report by Kiran Damodaran '21, Yale Sports Publicity