Dean Staves off Two Match Points to Clinch Bulldog Upset over No. 51 Cornell

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

No. 65 Yale Completes Fourth Comeback of Season

ITHACA, N.Y. – In a marathon match at Cornell's Reis Tennis Center on Saturday, the Yale men's tennis team defeated the Big Red in a pulsating finish thanks to incredible heroics from senior Zachary Dean.  Playing in its third Ivy League match of the season, No. 65 Yale (16-4, 2-1 Ivy) narrowly lost the doubles point before roaring back in singles to seal the upset over No. 51 Cornell (12-7, 1-3 Ivy). 

Saturday saw a full slate of Ancient Eight match-ups, and wins by No. 49 Columbia and Penn over Brown and No. 70 Dartmouth, respectively, give Yale an outright claim to the No. 3 spot in the Ivy League standings.  No. 19 Harvard defeated No. 50 Princeton on Saturday as well, putting the Crimson on top of the leaderboard, followed by the Tigers. 

The victory over the Big Red marks the fourth time this season Yale has successfully staged a comeback after having dropped the doubles point.  It is also the Bulldogs' twelfth win in their last 14 matches, and their second-straight, after having swept Penn one week ago.  Even more satisfying for the Elis, the triumph is an exact reversal of last year's 4-3 loss to Cornell. 

The doubles point was extremely hard-fought, with Yale's No. 1 pairing of senior captain Daniel Hoffman and classmate Marc Powers getting the Bulldogs off to a good start with an 8-4 win over Venkat Iyer and Alex Sidney.  Cornell made a statement, however, when both its No. 2 and No. 3 doubles tandems posted 9-7 victories to steal the doubles point from Yale's grasp. 

Fortunately for the Elis, they have become somewhat accustomed this season to fighting back in singles play, with the last such comeback coming against St. John's the weekend before conference play began.  Senior John Huang and freshman Martin Svenning initiated Yale's spirited efforts in singles with solid wins at No. 1 and No. 4, respectively.  With Powers' loss to Sam Fleck at No. 2 singles, Svenning is now the only Bulldog to remain undefeated in Ivy League competition.   At No. 3 singles, Hoffman defeated Sidney 6-3, 6-2.  Cornell canceled out this win, however, when Jason Luu fended off freshman Jason Brown, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. 

With the overall score tied at 3-3, the winner would be decided by the No. 6 match between Dean and the Big Red's Kyle Berman.  The two players had split the first two sets, and the match eventually came down to a decisive third-set tiebreaker.  In what Alex Dorato, Cary Leeds Head Coach of Men's Tennis, deemed a "very exciting" finish, Dean took the tiebreaker after courageously saving two match points.  The final score read 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) after Dean capitalized on his chance to lead Yale to its second Ivy win of the season.

While Cornell will have to regroup quickly for its match on Sunday against Brown, Yale will be looking to carry its momentum into Sunday's encounter with Columbia (11-8, 2-2 Ivy).  This pivotal match-up promises to be a tough one for Yale, as the Lions are coming off a strong 5-2 win over Brown.

Report by Robert Batista '15, Yale Sports Publicity

Doubles

1. Daniel Hoffman/Marc Powers (Yale) def. Venkat Iyer/Alex Sidney (Cornell), 8-4

2. Jason Luu/Quoc-Daniel Nguyen (Cornell) def. Patrick Chase/John Huang (Yale), 9-7

3. Kyle Berman/Sam Fleck (Cornell) def. Matt Saiontz/Martin Svenning (Yale), 9-7

Singles

1. Huang (Yale) def. Iyer (Cornell), 6-1, 6-3

2. Fleck (Cornell) def. Powers (Yale), 6-3, 6-2

3. Hoffman (Yale) def. Sidney (Cornell), 6-3, 6-2

4. Svenning (Yale) def. Nguyen (Cornell), 6-1, 6-1

5. Luu (Cornell) def. Jason Brown (Yale), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2

6. Zachary Dean (Yale) def. Berman (Cornell), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7)