April 25, 2012

Yale to Face No. 58 Brown in Season Finale

Elis Look to Finish Winning Season on a Strong Note

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's tennis team will look to cap its winning season with an emphatic victory when it travels to play its season finale against No. 58 Brown on Saturday at 2 p.m.  The Elis have not won a match since dramatically upsetting No. 42 Columbia, but they will have one more chance to snap their losing slide when they play Brown, a team currently tied with Yale at sixth place in the Ivy League standings.

Yale (13-10, 2-4 Ivy League) dropped out of the national rankings this week from its No. 73 position owing to losses against No. 49 Dartmouth and No. 23 Harvard, but the Bulldogs will be able to put their recent disappointment behind them with a strong performance on Saturday at Brown.  The winner of this match will move into a three-way tie for fourth place in the Ivy League standings along with No. 72 Cornell and Princeton, while the loser will drop to seventh place in the standings.  Yale will also be looking to finish its season with a winning record in away matches, as the Bulldogs are currently 7-7 on the road. 

The doubles point has anchored Yale's success all season.  It has taken particularly strong performances from opponents to secure the doubles point at the Elis' expense.  In addition, the Bulldogs have only been swept in doubles once all season, against No. 10 Stanford back in early March.  At No. 1 doubles, the nationally ranked No. 85 team of juniors Daniel Hoffman and Marc Powers is on a three-match winning streak, and carries an impressive 16-4 season record into its final match of the season.  Yale's No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Patrick Chase and junior John Huang had a tough weekend of losses, and will look to recover the form that saw the duo go on a seven-match winning streak earlier this season.  The No. 3 team of senior captain Erik Blumenkranz and classmate Joel Samaha will look to end its Yale doubles career in the best possible fashion with a resounding victory this Saturday.   

Yale's Ivy League season has largely been determined by the outcome of three-set singles matches.  The four Ivy League teams that have defeated Yale have collectively outscored Yale 7-4 in singles matches that have gone to a deciding set.  Yale won these four three-set matches, however, after the opposing team has already clinched the overall victory.  Conversely, when the Bulldogs beat Penn, they won the two matches that went to a deciding set that day, and when the Bulldogs upset Columbia, Hoffman won a tight three-set match to clinch the victory.

Yale's No. 1 singles player, Huang, continues to befuddle opponents with a relentless combination of power and consistency.  He has not had to play a three-set match since playing Stanford and has only lost once in his last 11 matches.  Powers, who played at the No. 2 spot against Dartmouth, will look to finish his season by regaining the form that saw him grind out a deserved victory against Harvard last Friday.  The Bulldogs' indefatigable singles player, Hoffman, will look to complete a stellar undefeated Ivy League season with a win against Brown.  Hoffman has won 15 of his last 16 matches.  Yale's No. 4 singles player, Blumenkranz, will look to regroup after a tough loss against Dartmouth to post a win in his final match as a Bulldog.  Yale's No. 5 player, sophomore Kyle Dawson, also looks to regroup on the heels of a tough three-set loss to Dartmouth.  In the last three matches, the No. 6 singles position has been occupied by three different players, junior Zachary Dean, freshman Zachary Krumholz and Samaha, all of whom would be hungry to earn a win for Yale in the season finale.

Brown (16-7, 2-4 Ivy League) goes into Saturday's match with an impressive 10-1 home record on the season, with the sole loss coming in its last match against Harvard.  The Bears will therefore be confident and motivated when battling Yale for a share of fourth place in the Ivy League standings.  In last season's match between Brown and Yale, the Bears swept the doubles and took all but one singles match to hand the Bulldogs a 6-1 defeat.

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday's match, however, the Bulldogs are guaranteed to finish the 2011-12 season with a winning record, a reversal of last season's 9-13 record.

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity