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Yale Falls Just Short of Major Upset

Yale Falls Just Short of Major Upset

Heller, King, Lu Notch Singles Victories in 4-3 Away Loss to No. 26 Cornell

ITHACA, N.Y. – Coming off a 4-1 victory over Penn in its most recent match, the Yale men's tennis team traveled to Ithaca on Saturday to take on league-leading Cornell in the Bulldogs' penultimate match of the season. Despite the strength of their opponent (Cornell currently ranks No. 26 in the nation) and the difficulties of playing away from home, the Elis submitted an impressive performance on Saturday, falling just a few points short of a major upset victory. The final score, 4-3 in Cornell's favor, tells the story of a dramatic match that was decided only in its final moments; in fact, the match could not have been closer, with the decisive point coming down to a third-set tiebreak between Yale's Stefan Doehler and Cornell's Pietro Rimondini. 

Saturday's drama began with a highly competitive round of doubles. Yale's No. 3 duo Tyler Lu and Photos Photiades finished first on a positive note, cruising to a 6-1 victory over Cornell's Rohan Sikka and Juan Jose Rosas; this result marked the senior pairing's second win over Ivy League opposition. The Big Red managed to mount a comeback at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, however, with both matches ending 6-3 in their favor. Despite Saturday's defeat, Yale's top team of Fedor Andrienko and Alex Hagermoser have combined well this month and may even make a case for All-Ivy distinction by the end of the season.

After coming up short in doubles, the Bulldogs showed resilience to bounce back in singles. Star freshman Dylan King finished first at the No. 3 position, completing a 6-3, 7-6 win over Cornell's Chris Vrabel and evening up the match score. Results were relatively split at the other singles positions, with Cornell's No. 6 player Bernardo Casares edging Yale's Ryan Cheng in straight sets and Yale's Lu downing Cornell's Lev Kazakov 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 singles; Lu's 17-2 singles record at the top of Yale's lineup this spring ranks among the best in the Northeast Region. Cornell also gained a bit of breathing room with a win at the No. 2 position, where Colin Sinclair narrowly edged Yale's Ziqi Wang 7-6, 6-4.

The final two matches of Saturday's clash reached dramatic third sets. At No. 5 singles, Yale freshman Andrew Heller faced off against Cornell's Daniel Grunberger, who had won the first set of their match 6-3. The Bulldog appeared to figure things out in the next two sets, however, taking them by a score of 6-1, 6-4; this result improved Heller's singles record to 9-5 in his last 14 matches. With the match score knotted at 3-3, Saturday's result came down to junior Stefan Doehler's third set against Cornell's Rimondini at the No. 4 spot. Rimondini, who came into Saturday's match riding a six-match win streak, proved his worth as a formidable opponent; and although Doehler did well to win the second set, Rimondini ultimately pulled away in a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 win. 

Although the Elis will be disappointed to have come so close to victory without securing the upset, they can take pride in the fact that they competed so well against one of the top teams in the country. Yale will play its final match of the season tomorrow in an away match against No. 23 Columbia; the action will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Columbia's Dick Savitt Tennis Center.

Report by Cameron Ferguson '18, Yale Sports Publicity

FULL MATCH RESULTS -- Cornell 4, Yale 3

 Position  Yale University  Cornell University  Winner  Score
 #1 Singles  #63 Tyler Lu  #101 Lev Kozakov  Yale University  6-4,6-3
 #2 Singles  Ziqi Wang  Colin Sinclair  Cornell University  7-6,6-4
 #3 Singles  Dylan King  Chris Vrabel  Yale University  6-3,7-6
 #4 Singles  Stefan Doehler  Pietro Rimondini  Cornell University  6-2,2-6,7-6
 #5 Singles  Andrew Heller  Daniel Grunberger  Yale University  3-6,6-1,6-4
 #6 Singles  Ryan Cheng  Bernardo Casares Rosa  Cornell University  7-5,6-1
 #1 Doubles  Alex Hagermoser 
 Fedor Andrienko
 #79 Chris Vrabel 
 Colin Sinclair
 Cornell University  6-3
 #2 Doubles  Ryan Cheng 
 Dylan King
 Lev Kozakov 
 David Volfson
 Cornell University  6-3
 #3 Doubles  Tyler Lu 
 Photos Photiades
 Rohan Sikka 
 Juan Jose Rosas
 Yale University  6-1