Cheng, Doehler, Heller and Z. Wang Finish Weekend With Tournament Hardware
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After Friday and Saturday's hectic tournament action, six members of the Yale men's tennis team remained standing to compete in championship matches on Sunday. This final day was the culmination of a weekend of hard work for the Bulldogs, who sent four players to Princeton to compete in the annual Ivy Plus tournament, while keeping nine players at home for the Connecticut State Championships. Although Sunday's action saw some Elis win their respective draws and others fall just short of glory, the whole squad can take pride in a fantastic team-wide performance in just the second week of the 2016-17 season; of particular note was the excellence and composure of the team's three freshmen.
In singles competition in the Nassau Draw of the Ivy Plus, Yale's Ziqi Wang was slated to face Princeton's Kial Kaiser on Sunday in a championship match. Kaiser withdrew before the ball was dropped, however, making Wang the default singles champion – a well-earned title given his impressive singles performance over the past two days, which saw him beat top players from Princeton, St. John's, and Tennessee. The Yale junior has started the season well with a 5-1 singles record in tournament play, and looks to play a key role in the Elis' success going forward.
Wang also competed in the doubles final of the Ivy Plus' Dillon draw on Sunday, teaming up with fellow junior Stefan Doehler to face St. John's Luka Sucevic and Dusan Vukicevic. Both teams competed well and refused to give ground, trading service games until reaching a deciding tiebreak; ultimately, however, it was the Red Storm who gained a slight edge at the finish to take the match over the Bulldogs, 8-7. Although Doehler has paired up most often with classmate Fedor Andrienko in the past, his style of play also complements Wang's quite well, and the combination might be a possibility to explore in the future.
At home in the Connecticut State Championships, both the singles and doubles A draw finals featured Yale players – a notable achievement considering the quality of competitors from seven other schools in the Northeast region. In the singles final, Yale freshmen Ryan Cheng and Andrew Heller faced off in a much-anticipated match; both players kept the home crowd entertained throughout with their high level of play, with Heller ultimately claiming a 6-3, 6-2 championship victory.
Although they were opponents in singles, Cheng and Heller actually teamed up in doubles to compete in the final rounds of the doubles draw on Sunday. Their opponents in the semifinal were Yale's Charlie Adams and Photos Photiades, who came into Sunday looking to repeat as champions of the event. As expected, the match came down to the wire, with just one service break making the difference in a 6-4 victory in favor of the freshmen. In the championship round, the freshmen played a similarly tense match against Fairfield's Bradley Orban and Tyler Shibles, ultimately winning the match 6-4 to complete a terrific day for the Bulldogs.
From the three freshmen players to senior captain Tyler Lu, the Elis submitted a banner performance all around this past weekend. Although it's still early on in the season, this squad has shown it has a wealth of great players – the only question is how they will all fit together when team matches begin.
Report by Cameron Ferguson '18, Yale Sports Publicity
Links to Full Draws Below: