Bulldogs Searching for First Win on the Road
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After more than two months of home matches and out-of-state trips, the Yale men's tennis team finds itself just one match removed from the start of the Ivy League season. Facing off against their Ancient Eight rivals will still be far from the Bulldogs' minds, however, as this upcoming Saturday's match will be a stern test for the Elis and an opportunity to gain considerable momentum heading into conference play. In just its third away match of the season, No. 56 Yale (13-3, 0-0 Ivy) will take on St. John's (2-11, 0-1 Big East) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., at 1:00 p.m.
Though Yale has enjoyed a very successful season so far, Saturday's match against St. John's gives the team the opportunity to bolster its 2012-13 résumé even further. For one, Saturday's match gives the Elis the chance to reverse last season's tough 4-3 loss against St. John's, which came down to a 6-4 third set decision in favor of senior captain Daniel Hoffman's opponent. Also, the Bulldogs are still searching for their first win at an away venue that is not a neutral site, having gone 0-2 so far this season at such venues. Finally, a win against St. John's would extend the squad's current winning streak to four matches and would mark Yale's tenth win in its last 11 matches.
One aspect of last year's match that Yale will certainly look to replicate is its performance in doubles, which saw both of the current top Bulldog pairings in peak form. At No. 1 doubles, the No. 74 senior duo of Hoffman and Marc Powers battled to a 9-7 victory, and for Saturday's match, the tandem brings even more experience to the court. Meanwhile, Yale's No. 2 team of junior Patrick Chase and senior John Huang put in a strong effort in last season's match against St. John's to achieve an 8-2 win, and will look to do the same this year.
One reason Yale will have to be on top of its game in doubles is that St. John's boasts a deep singles lineup. At No. 1 singles, Huang will most likely have to face Vasko Mladenov, who has won his last seven matches. Huang and Mladenov met back in September at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Collegiate Invitational. In a highly competitive match, Huang needed no fewer than five match points to close out a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) victory over Mladenov, which bodes well for another entertaining clash between these two talented seniors. As for the rest of Yale's singles lineup, Alex Dorato, Cary Leeds Head Coach of Men's Tennis, will have several in-form players whom he can call upon, as several Bulldogs picked up wins during last weekend's doubleheader against Binghamton and St. Bonaventure, including Hoffman, Powers, freshmen Jason Brown and Martin Svenning, sophomore Daniel Faierman, junior Kyle Dawson and senior Zachary Dean. Dean has won six of his last seven matches.
St. John's has struggled so far this season and is 0-5 against Ivy League opponents. Despite this, the Red Storm is bound to draw confidence from last season's close win over the Elis. Interestingly, while last year's match saw the Red Storm enter as a nationally ranked team and Yale as unranked, Saturday's match sees these roles flipped, as Yale goes into the encounter ranked (just two spots above what St. John's was ranked this time last season) and St. John's comes into the clash unranked.
Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity