Important Weekend Ahead for No. 73 Yale

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

Elis Travel to No. 24 Harvard, Play No. 60 Dartmouth in Last Home Match

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The season is beginning to wind down for the Yale men's tennis team, but the Bulldogs are about to enter their most important and difficult Ivy League stretch.  After a weekend that saw No. 73 Yale take out No. 45 Columbia but then fall to Cornell the next day, the team will look to get its first back-to-back wins of the Ivy League season this upcoming weekend against two ranked opponents.  The Elis travel to play No. 24 Harvard at 2 p.m. on Friday and then play their final home match of the season against No. 60 Dartmouth at 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

Yale (13-8, 2-2 Ivy League) goes into this weekend's matches as a nationally ranked team for the first time all season, at No. 73.  In the Ivy League standings, Yale is currently in a three-way tie for 4th place along with No. 51 Brown and Dartmouth.  Harvard currently tops the Ivy League standings with a 3-1 record.  The Bulldogs will have confidence that they can pull off the upset against Harvard, however, since they beat the only Ivy League team that has beaten Harvard this season, Columbia, and in doing so broke the Lions' 12-match winning streak that dated back to mid-February.

After losing the doubles point to Columbia on Saturday for the first time in eight matches, the Bulldogs were able to prove that the streak was no fluke as they came back the next day to sweep the doubles against Cornell. At No. 1 doubles, juniors Daniel Hoffman and Marc Powers had a weekend of mixed results, but still carry a strong 14-4 season record into the next two matches.  Yale's No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Patrick Chase and junior John Huang had similarly mixed results, but has won eight of its last nine matches and has won its doubles match the last eight times the Elis have taken the doubles point.  The No. 3 team of senior captain Erik Blumenkranz and classmate Joel Samaha was the only Yale team to win both doubles match last weekend.  The duo is on a three-match winning streak.  The two seniors are sure to be motivated this upcoming weekend as they play their last doubles match against rival Harvard and their last doubles match at home. 

Though the doubles point has been the springboard for most of the Bulldogs' wins this season, it was the Bulldogs' singles line-up that got the job done in their dramatic upset of Columbia on Saturday.  Yale's No. 1 singles player, Huang, is currently in dominant form, having won his last nine matches in straight sets with a relentless combination of power and precision.  He is undefeated in Ivy League play this season.  At No. 2 singles, Powers will look to regain the form that saw him start the season with a 5-0 record.  Hoffman, playing at No. 3, is also undefeated in Ivy League matches this season and has won 13 of his last 14 matches.  Hoffman has been the epitome of physical and mental toughness recently, having won his last three matches all in a deciding set.  At No. 4 singles, Blumenkranz will look to put in a strong performance this weekend to make his last match against Harvard and his final match at home memorable.  Yale's No. 5 player, sophomore Kyle Dawson, goes into this weekend on the heels of a strong win against Columbia and a tough loss against Cornell.  At No 6 singles, freshman Zachary Krumholz looks to regroup after suffering two extremely close defeats last weekend.

Harvard (19-2, 3-1 Ivy League) seeks to extend its lead in the Ivy League standings when it hosts Yale on Friday at the Beren Tennis Center.  The Crimson's only two losses this season have been to No. 36 Indiana and Columbia.  The team features the No. 57 nationally ranked doubles team of Alistair Felton and Casey MacMaster.  The Crimson will undoubtedly present the Bulldogs with a stern challenge, but the Ivy League season has thus far had its fair share of surprises, including Yale's recent upset of Columbia and Cornell's comeback win over Yale.  Emotions will be riding high in this match, as it marks yet another chapter in the storied Harvard-Yale tennis rivalry that dates back to 1922.  In last season's match between these two teams, Harvard overcame Yale 5-2 by winning the doubles point and four singles matches.  Harvard also beat Yale at the ECAC Indoor Championship earlier this season by a score of 4-1.

Dartmouth (16-3, 2-2 Ivy League) plays Brown on Friday before hitting the road to take on the Bulldogs and their 6-2 record at home.  The Big Green took out Princeton on Saturday before falling to Penn on Sunday.  Dartmouth features the nationally ranked No. 67 doubles team of Alex de Chatellus and Michael Laser.  Yale lost to Dartmouth 4-3 last season, though all six singles matches were tightly contested. Yale will also look to reverse last season's loss of the doubles point to Dartmouth. 

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity