NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After two difficult away matches this past weekend, Yale men's tennis returns home this Saturday and Sunday for conference play against No. 47 Cornell and No. 16 Columbia. The team will face Cornell on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Columbia on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., with both matches taking place at home in the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center.
Cornell will come into this match with momentum, after notching a 4-3 upset win over No. 30 Harvard this past Sunday. Nonetheless, the Big Red has been going through a difficult stretch, as prior to the win, the team was on a four-game losing streak; this match was Cornell's first conference win of the season, after falling to Dartmouth (4-2), Penn (4-3) and Princeton (4-3). The last time the Bulldogs faced the Big Red was last year when they came up just short, falling 4-3 in an away match, with Cornell ranking No. 26 at that time. Cornell returns with a largely new lineup and have found success in both singles and doubles play, especially in its lower-seeded singles matchups. Yale will have to match this level across the board, though Cornell has shown itself to be vulnerable in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. Sophomore Dylan King and senior captain Stefan Doehler will look to take advantage of this vulnerability in their matchups against the Big Red's David Volfson and Alafia Ayeni which could set the tone for the rest of the match.
Despite a strong start to the season and a powerhouse roster, No. 16 Columbia will enter its match Sunday on a lower note after its first loss of the conference season to No. 27 Dartmouth in a match in which the Lions squandered a 3-0 lead. Nonetheless, this team has shown its strength with dominant wins against Harvard (4-1), Princeton (4-0) and Penn (4-2). The Lions have also shown through their most recent match that they are not perfect, however, and are beatable. The last time they faced the Bulldogs was last year when they were ranked No. 23, and they came out on top 5-2. No. 1 doubles pair Fedor Andrienko and King will look to continue their success in a tough matchup against Columbia's duo of Jack Lin and William Matheson, ranked No. 41 in the nation. No. 1 and No. 2 singles players King and Heller will also face strong opponents in Victor Pham and Jackie Tang, ranked No. 18 and No. 51 in the nation respectively – though both players dropped their previous matches against Dartmouth. Given the strength of Columbia's top players, the Bulldogs will need to gain wins in other matchups to give themselves the best chance to win.
With doubles play improving for Yale with a new lineup, the team will hope to gain its first wins of the conference this weekend. Facing strong competition, the Bulldogs will need to be firing on all cylinders and put forth their best effort to gain wins against two strong teams. More than halfway through the Ivy League season, Yale will hope to find success this weekend and turn its season around.
Report by Kiran Damodaran '21, Yale Sports Publicity