Bulldogs Look to Start Fall Season Strong in Philadelphia
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Following a long offseason, the Yale men's tennis team will travel to Philadelphia this weekend to kick off its fall season at the sixth annual Penn Invitational. The Elis will be looking to replicate their success in this tournament last year, when they posted an 18-1 record on Saturday and a phenomenal 38-9 overall match record. The event, hosted by the Penn men's tennis team at the Hamlin and Hecht Tennis Centers, will feature competitors from seven other schools: Columbia, Denver, Georgetown, Middle Tennessee State, Penn, Princeton and William & Mary. The tournament format is geared toward the large field of players, with separate singles and doubles flights.
Coming at the start of the season, the Penn Invitational not only presents an opportunity for Yale's newest players to prove themselves, but also serves as a useful checkup for players who have spent a full summer away from competition. So, while several Bulldogs will be aiming for their first collegiate victory this weekend, others will be working to tune themselves up for the season to come. As a recent example, the major standouts from last year's Penn Invitational – Ryan Cheng, Andrew Heller, Dylan King and Ziqi Wang – all built on their early season success to earn starting singles spots and become four of Yale's most important players during the 2016-17 campaign. King, who begins the season ranked No. 94 in the nation, will look to win his draw at the Penn Invitational for the second straight year.
After missing this event last season, senior captain Stefan Doehler will be eager to make his mark this weekend. Given his starting role in both singles and doubles last year, Doehler will be instrumental to the team's success this year. A strong team effort at the Penn Invitational would also reflect well on Doehler's leadership ability; as team captain, he will serve as a veteran example for freshmen Cody Lin and Alan Sou, who will get a taste of collegiate competition for the first time this weekend.
As the Penn Invitational features doubles competition, Yale will also use it as an opportunity to experiment with doubles combinations for the first time. Senior Fedor Andrienko, who started at No. 1 doubles for the Bulldogs at the end of last season, will factor into the mix; juniors Nathan Brown and Dennis Wang may also be likely to team up after reaching the finals of their doubles draw at the Dartmouth Invitational last October. Cheng and Heller could also be a strong pairing given their 7-1 record together and championship run in the Connecticut State Championships last season. With the Elis' doubles lineup still flexible, this weekend's results will go a long way in determining which pairings will work well going forward.
Though a successful 2017-18 season will not rest on the results of a single tournament, a positive performance this weekend could lay the foundation for a great journey. The action in Philadelphia will begin at 9 a.m. each day Friday through Sunday, and wrap up at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Report by Cameron Ferguson '18, Yale Sports Publicity