Spring Break Trip to Tar Heel State Brings Fresh Challenges for No. 48 Yale

Patrick Chase. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Patrick Chase. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Set to Face Illinois State, UNC Wilmington and No. 54 Old Dominion  

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's tennis team will leave the comfort and familiarity of its home courts behind this week as the squad travels to Wilmington, N.C., for a spring break tripleheader against three quality opponents.  The Bulldogs will play three matches in five days, starting with an encounter against Illinois State on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. The next day, Thursday, the Elis will take on UNC Wilmington at 2:00 p.m.  No. 48 Yale will then get two days of rest before concluding its visit to the Tar Heel State with a match against No. 54 Old Dominion on Sunday at 10:00 a.m.  All three matches will take place at the home courts of UNC Wilmington.

Yale (9-2, 0-0 Ivy) is riding a wave of confidence at the moment, having comprehensively dealt defeats to a trio of opponents at the Yale Round Robin event a week ago.  Round Robin victories against Fairleigh Dickinson, Marist and Stony Brook kept the Elis perfect at home (6-0) and extended their ongoing winning streak to five matches, with only one month to go until the start of the Ivy League stretch in April.  The Bulldogs' sterling first half of the season, in which they only lost two matches and posted five shutouts, is unmatched in the team's recent history, besting the 2009-10 squad's 8-3 record through eleven matches.

The Elis will have to be particularly sharp in doubles for this week's matches, as Yale's No. 1 duo of senior captain Daniel Hoffman and classmate Marc Powers, ranked No. 59 in the nation, will likely have to face two higher-ranked pairings.  UNC Wilmington boasts the team of Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider, ranked No. 15 in the country, while Old Dominion's doubles efforts are led by the No. 58 team of Can Centinel and Carlos Lopez Villa.  Along with Hoffman and Powers, Yale's No. 2 duo of junior Patrick Chase and senior John Huang went undefeated at the Yale Round Robin.  Both pairings know that a strong performance will contribute mightily to a positive start for the Bulldogs, which is always ideal when playing in unfamiliar territory.

The Bulldogs will also look to extend a couple of ongoing streaks in singles when they travel to North Carolina.  Since Yale's upset of Brown at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship in February, Hoffman, Huang and Powers have strung together a combined 16-0 record in singles play.  Powers is on a six-match winning streak and will bid to prolong his perfect run in Wilmington.  Senior Zachary Dean, sophomores Daniel Faierman and Zachary Krumholz and freshman Martin Svenning have rotated among the No.'s 4, 5 and 6 singles spots recently, and will be looking to add wins to the scoreboard for Yale if called upon to compete.  

This week's matches will certainly pose their fair share of challenges for the Elis.  Given the recent success of their opposition, the Bulldogs will have to break a couple impressive streaks if they want to avoid having their own streaks broken.  Host UNC Wilmington is undefeated (7-0) at home so far this season.  Headlining the Seahawks' roster is the No. 22 singles player in the nation, Rafael Aita.  Old Dominion, meanwhile, is on a six-match winning streak that includes two shutouts and four 6-1 triumphs, which signals an ominous run of form.  Finally, though Illinois State is on a three-match losing slide at the moment, its last three victories have been 7-0 sweeps.  These upcoming clashes between streaking teams promise to deliver some exciting and entertaining collegiate tennis in the Tar Heel State starting Wednesday.

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity