Hoffman Clinches, Huang Continues to Roll
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's tennis team pulled off an upset against No. 37 Columbia playing at home on Saturday afternoon in an intense match that lasted nearly five hours. The Bulldogs saw their seven-match doubles point winning streak come to an end, but posted four singles wins to break Columbia's 12-match winning streak by a final score of 4-3.
With the win, Yale (13-7, 2-1 Ivy League) not only breaks Columbia's impressive winning streak, but also hands Columbia its first Ivy League loss of the season. In their reversal of last season's 4-3 loss to Columbia, the Bulldogs improve to a 6-1 record when playing at home.
The match did not start out auspiciously for the Bulldogs, as the Lions managed to snap the Elis' seven-match doubles point winning streak by winning two of the doubles matches. At No. 1 doubles, the nationally ranked No. 80 team of juniors Daniel Hoffman and Marc Powers fell to a 13-4 season record with an 8-2 loss. Yale's No. 3 team of senior captain Erik Blumenkranz and classmate Joel Samaha then won 8-3, which meant that the doubles point would come down to the ongoing affair between Yale's No. 2 team of sophomore Patrick Chase and junior John Huang and Columbia's No. 2 team of Winston Lin and Haig Schneiderman. After a close match, Columbia edged out the victory in a tiebreaker to win 9-8 and end Chase/Huang's seven-match winning streak, as well as the Elis' doubles point streak.
In singles, Blumenkranz, playing at No. 4, quickly got the Bulldogs back on even terms with a decisive 6-2, 6-0 victory. Lin then defeated Powers 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 2 spot to pull the Lions ahead once more. Yet again, however, Yale evened the match when Huang, playing at No. 1, extended his winning streaks to eight matches and 16 sets with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 96 Schneiderman. Playing at No. 5 singles, sophomore Kyle Dawson managed to put Yale ahead for the first time all day with a 6-4, 6-3 win. With the Bulldogs on the verge of victory, Columbia's No. 6 Tizian Bucher came back from a set down to narrowly overcome Yale freshman Zachary Krumholz 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
The overall winner would therefore be decided by the No. 3 singles match between Hoffman and Columbia's Nathaniel Gery, which was in the middle of its third set when the No. 6 match finished. In possibly the most dramatic match of an extremely dramatic day, Hoffman clinched Yale's victory by winning five straight games after being down 4-1 in the third set to finish the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. Gery appeared to be cramping throughout the third set. When Gery was serving to stay in the match down 5-4 in the deciding set, Hoffman managed to push the game to deuce. Hoffman then won the match after Gery incurred two consecutive time violations at deuce and on match point.
Columbia (16-3, 3-1 Ivy League) suffers its first loss since mid-February, but is now tied with Princeton at the top of the Ivy League rankings owing to Princeton also being defeated for the first time in Ivy League play on Saturday, against No. 62 Dartmouth.
Alex Dorato, Cary Leeds Head Coach of Men's Tennis, credited Saturday's win to the Bulldogs' improved conditioning.
"We deserved the win, we worked really hard for this," said Dorato. "It was the conditioning that won it for them."
Yale will have to try to do it all over again in less than 24 hours, as the team returns back to its home courts Sunday at 2 p.m. to take on Cornell (7-15, 0-4 Ivy League), who narrowly lost 4-3 to No. 64 Brown on Saturday.
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
1. Narayana/Max Schnur (Columbia) def. No. 80 Hoffman/Powers (Yale), 8-2
2. Lin/Schneiderman (Columbia) def. Patrick Chase/Huang (Yale), 9-8
3. Blumenkranz/Joel Samaha (Yale) def. Yetimoglu/Gery (Columbia), 8-3
Order of Finish: 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, 3
1. John Huang (Yale) def. No. 96 Haig Schneiderman (Columbia), 6-3, 6-4
2. Winston Lin (Columbia) def. Marc Powers (Yale), 6-3, 6-4
3. Daniel Hoffman (Yale) def. Nathaniel Gery (Columbia), 6-4, 6-7, 6-4
4. Erik Blumenkranz (Yale) def. Ashok Narayana, 6-2, 6-0
5. Kyle Dawson (Yale) def. John Yetimoglu, 6-4, 6-3
6. Tizian Bucher (Columbia) def. Zachary Krumholz (Yale), 4-6, 7-5, 6-4