NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After a difficult start to league play against talented opponents in No. 33 Dartmouth and No. 28 Harvard, the Yale men's tennis team will look to rebound this weekend with important conference matches against Princeton and Penn. The Bulldogs will be traveling this weekend for both matches. They will face off against Princeton on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. before heading to Penn for another 1:00 p.m. start on Sunday. Given the strength of the Ivy League, and Yale's tough slate of matches against No. 15 Columbia and previously No. 47 Cornell in the near future, this weekend's matches will be key in turning Yale's conference season in a positive direction.
Princeton enters the match with a 1-2 conference record and coming directly off a 4-0 rout by No. 15 Columbia. This loss split the weekend for the Tigers, halting momentum the team may have gained after edging No. 47 Cornell 4-3 two days prior. Princeton also faced a rough start to league play when it was topped by Penn 6-1 the weekend before. With inconsistent results thus far, the Tigers will look to find their rhythm against the Bulldogs this Saturday. The last time these two teams met, Princeton topped Yale 4-0 in the ECAC Indoor Championships, but Yale's lineup has experienced a shakeup since that match, with a complete change in singles positions, except for in the No. 5 spot. With doubles pairs struggling over the past few matches, Yale's singles performances are key. Nonetheless, all three doubles matchups are repeats from the prior meeting. With both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches finishing in close losses last time, (7-5 and 6-4 respectively), Yale No. 1 doubles Fedor Andrienko and Stefan Doehler and No. 2 doubles Dylan King and Ryan Cheng will be seeking revenge. Senior Andrienko has also been at the top of his game recently and will look to win his fourth match in a row at the No. 5 spot, avenging his earlier singles loss and improving his conference record to 3-0.
After a hard-fought 4-2 loss against No. 15 Columbia this past Friday, Penn bounced back in a solid 4-3 win over No. 47 Cornell on Sunday to give it momentum entering this weekend's matches. The Quakers will face off against Brown on Saturday before hosting the Bulldogs on Sunday. In the last meeting between Yale and Penn, the Elis came out on top in a 4-1 victory, with strong showings across the board, but a few notable injuries on Penn's side. Nonetheless, Yale will be hoping to repeat this type of performance on Sunday. No. 1 singles and sophomore Dylan King will have a difficult matchup, battling experienced two-time first-team All-Ivy player and Penn captain Kyle Mautner. The Bulldogs will look for strong performances out of not just King, but again out of their doubles players. The graduation loss of Tyler Lu '17, who beat Mautner at No. 1 singles last year, and the reintroduction of No. 3 singles player Dmitry Shatalin for the Quakers this year will mean that Yale will need to be at the top of its game in singles as well to secure the upper hand.
While the Elis may have started league play with a tough first weekend, they will have another opportunity this weekend to prove themselves against high-level competition. As long as Yale keeps up the level of play it showed against Harvard this past Sunday, the Bulldogs should find great success.
Report by Kiran Damodaran '21, Yale Sports Publicity