Round Robin Brings Three Opponents to Cullman-Heyman

Joel Samaha. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Joel Samaha. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Fairleigh Dickinson, Marist and Stony Brook Up Next for Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After a weekend off following the ECAC Indoor Championship tournament, the Yale men's tennis team returns to action with a busy schedule this coming weekend. The Bulldogs will play three matches in two days, starting with a pair on the first day. Yale opens the weekend against Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday morning, then hosts Marist later in the day. The Round Robin concludes with a match vs. Stony Brook on Sunday morning.

Yale (4-3) had been off to its best start in 11 years prior to the ECAC Indoor Championship, where the Bulldogs dropped three matches. The Bulldogs got a pair of singles wins from junior Daniel Hoffman (Atherton, Calif.), who is now 5-2 in singles play this season (3-1 at the No. 3 spot). Junior Marc Powers (Stamford, Conn.) is 3-0 at the No. 1 spot but did not complete any singles matches at the ECAC Indoor tournament.

Hoffman and Powers had been 4-0 as Yale's No. 1 doubles team before suffering their first defeat in the 4-1 loss to Princeton in the opening round at ECACs. They were ranked No. 3 in the Northeast in the January ITA regional rankings. Powers was also the No. 2-ranked singles player in the regional rankings, and he is currently No. 78 in the country.

The Yale Round Robin brings three familiar teams to New Haven, as the Bulldogs went 2-1 against these same three oppponents at Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center last season. Yale beat Fairleigh Dickinson 7-0, winning every match in straight sets. Junior John Huang (Irvine, Calif.) at No. 2 and senior captain Erik Blumenkranz (Portola Valley, Calif.) at No. 4 both surrendered just five total games in their matches. Huang also combined with sophomore Tommy Ratchford (Atlanta, Ga.) for a decisive 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.

Fairleigh Dickinson (2-4) won a pair of matches in the fall but has lost all four matches it has played so far this spring, including three to Ivy League opponents (7-0 to Princeton and 6-1 to both Columbia and Penn). Ibrahim Shams, who advanced to the Round of 64 at the USTA/ITA Division I Northeast Regional Championships last fall, has been playing No. 1 singles for the Knights. Powers beat him 7-6, 6-4 in last year's meeting.

Marist beat Yale 5-2 last year. The Bulldogs' wins came at No. 3 (Hoffman in straight sets) and No. 4 (senior Joel Samaha (Tampa, Fla.)). The Red Foxes claimed a closely contested doubles point 2-1. Four of the six players who competed against Yale in singles last year are back, including No. 1 Joris Van Eck of the Netherlands. He was a first team All-MAAC selection.

Marist (2-1) is coming off a 7-0 loss to Columbia. The Red Foxes have been picked to repeat as MAAC champions, and have won the last four championships in a row.

Yale beat Stony Brook 4-3 last year. After a sweep in doubles, the Bulldogs got three straight-set singles wins, from Hoffman at No. 2, Blumenkranz at No. 4 and Jordan Abergel '11 at No. 5.

Stony Brook (4-1) has won four straight matches since dropping a 6-1 decision to Dartmouth in the spring opener. The Seawolves are coming off a pair of 4-3 wins, including one that snapped a six-match winning streak for Lehigh.

In addition to the Round Robin, this weekend also includes a special honor for Alex Dorato, Yale's Cary Leeds Coach of Men's Tennis. Dorato, who became Yale's all-time leader in coaching wins with his 244th earlier this season, will be honored as the recipient of the 2011 USTA New England Joseph Deitz Bowl on Saturday. The Deitz Bowl is given annually by USPTA-New England to the professional who has done the most for New England tennis.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity