Important Pair of Ivy Matches Ahead for No. 65 Yale

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Zachary Dean. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs to Face No. 51 Cornell and No. 49 Columbia on the Road

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Ivy League season is in full swing, with all eight teams in action this upcoming weekend.  The Yale men's tennis team is coming off a mixed opening weekend that saw the squad suffer a narrow defeat to No. 50 Princeton, only to rebound strongly to defeat Penn in its finest match of the season.  The Bulldogs will look to carry this momentum into their match against No. 51 Cornell, which will take place on Saturday at the Big Red's Reis Tennis Center at 2:00 p.m.  The following day, the Elis will play No. 49 Columbia at the Lions' Dick Savitt Tennis Center at 2:00 p.m. 

No. 65 Yale (15-4, 1-1 Ivy) is currently in a tie for third place in the Ivy League standings, along with Brown and No. 70 Dartmouth.  These three teams trail Princeton and No. 19 Harvard, both of which have gone undefeated so far against their Ancient Eight rivals.  Yale boasts the best overall win-loss record of any Ivy League school this season, and has compiled the most number of wins, at 15.  In addition, the Bulldogs have won all but one of their last six matches, and 11 of their last 13 matches.  Though the Elis have a 1-2 record on non-neutral away surfaces this season, their lone win on the road came in their last away match against a talented St. John's team. 

As always, the Bulldogs will need to be in top doubles form against their rivals.  The doubles point is particularly important in Ivy League play, as all eight schools feature very evenly-matches singles players.  Though the senior duo of captain Daniel Hoffman and Marc Powers dropped out of the national doubles rankings this week, the tandem still poses a formidable threat to any team it faces.  The same is true of Yale's No. 2 pairing of junior Patrick Chase and senior John Huang.  Both teams will be looking to give Yale a crucial early advantage in its upcoming matches.

Of course, as most of the points are won in singles play, the Elis will also be looking to replicate their impressive performance in singles against Penn, in which all six players won in straight sets.  Neither Powers nor freshman Martin Svenning has lost a set of singles so far in conference play.  In addition, Hoffman's close loss against his Princeton opponent is his only defeat during league play since the 2010-11 season.  Huang, freshman Jason Brown and senior Zachary Dean all showed a great degree of mental toughness by posting solid wins against Penn after having suffered tough defeats against the Tigers, which bodes well for their prospects against their Cornell and Columbia opponents. 

Cornell (12-6, 1-2 Ivy) has had mixed results in Ivy League play so far, with a win against Dartmouth sandwiched in between losses to Columbia and Harvard.  The Big Red are not to be taken lightly, however, as they won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Indoor Team Championship earlier this season, defeating no less than three Ancient Eight rivals—Brown, Harvard and Columbia—along the way.  That tournament featured seven Ivy League teams, including Yale. 

Columbia (10-8, 1-2 Ivy) has also struggled somewhat in conference matches, having followed up a solid win over Cornell with a loss to Harvard and a surprising defeat at the hands of Dartmouth.  Nonetheless, Winston Lin, the No. 60 player in the nation, leads the Lions' singles efforts.  Princeton's Matija Pecotic, who is ranked eighth in the country, is the only Ivy League player with a better ranking than Lin.  Columbia also boasts the No. 66 team of Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur; only two league tandems are ranked higher.  This duo defeated Hoffman and Powers in the final of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Championships back in October.  Sunday's encounter will likely feature a rematch of these two doubles teams. 

Last year, the Bulldogs fell to Cornell in a 4-3 decision.  The day before, however, the Elis had upset Columbia 4-3 in a dramatic, nearly five-hour clash that saw Hoffman overcome a 4-1 deficit in the final set of his match at No. 3 singles to clinch a superb Bulldog victory.

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity