Men’s tennis swept Brown and Yale this weekend to bounce back from its first home Ivy defeat since 2011 on April 15.
The Lions (16-4, 5-1 Ivy), ranked No. 16 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, made quick work of the Bears (15-10, 1-5 Ivy) and the Bulldogs (10-12, 0-6 Ivy) to bring their Ivy League record to 5-1.
After Dartmouth (20-5, 6-1 Ivy) clinched at least a share of its first Ivy title in 21 years with a weekend sweep of Penn and Princeton, should the Light Blue defeat Cornell (10-10, 3-3 Ivy) this Saturday in Ithaca, it would clinch its fifth consecutive Ancient Eight crown—the first team to accomplish this feat in men’s tennis since Princeton’s five-year run from 1976 to 1980.
Head coach Bid Goswami—who has 12 titles in 36 years at the helm of the Lions—praised the entire team’s performance this weekend, noting that after the deflating Dartmouth loss it was especially important that the team bounced back in resounding fashion.
“It was a good weekend and a therapeutic weekend,” Goswami said. “We couldn’t wait to get back on the courts this week. We needed our mojo back, it [the loss] jolted us. But I was really happy that we played well.”
In doubles play, Goswami chose to keep first-year Austen Huang in the lineup at third doubles, and kept his top two pairs the same. All in all, the Lions cruised against both Brown and Yale in doubles play on the backs of consistent play from the pair of junior Will Matheson and first-year Jack Lin, ranked No. 42 in the ITA rankings, at first doubles and senior Michal Rolski and sophomore Adam Ambrozy at second doubles.
Against both Brown and Yale, it was the pairings at second and first doubles that registered victories, as Rolski and Ambrozy collected 6-4 and 6-2 victories.
Meanwhile, at first doubles, Matheson and Lin won 6-4 on Saturday at Brown and 6-3 on Sunday at Yale to clinch the doubles point in each match.
While sophomore Jackie Tang and Huang did not finish either match, the duo was serving for the match up 5-4 on both Saturday and Sunday, when the other matches finished.
The consistency in doubles play has made Goswami’s life considerably easier, given that the Lions have clinched the doubles point in all but one Ivy League match this season despite the absence of Pham from the doubles lineup.
“With Victor in the lineup, our depth would be much better,” Goswami said. “But for now, we’ve been playing really well, and I hope we can keep it up.”
In singles play, the Lions exerted their dominance over the Bears and Bulldogs and did not drop a single set as a team.
Leading the charge and anchoring the team’s lineup was Huang at sixth singles. The first-year, who has played as high as fourth singles in dual matches this season, continued to impress in Ancient Eight play, improving his record to 5-0 with all victories coming in straight sets.
Huang’s matches this week proved no exception to that trend, as he cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Brown’s Aaron Sandberg and a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Yale’s Alan Sou.
Ambrozy, who suffered defeat against Dartmouth, bounced back this weekend with two victories including a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Yale’s Ziqi Wang a day after a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Brown’s Charles Tan.
Atop the lineup, junior Victor Pham, ranked No. 22 in the most recent ITA rankings, continued to wear off the rust after playing in just his third and fourth matches since missing three weeks with a shoulder injury.
Against Brown’s Peter Tarwid, Pham cruised to a 6-3 first-set victory but was trailing 5-3 in the second set when the Lions secured the victory and play was halted. Against Yale’s Dylan King, Pham suffered a similar fate, as he was unable to finish his match after winning the first set 7-5.
Despite Pham’s lack of results in Ancient Eight play, Goswami noted that he felt Pham played much better this weekend and expressed optimism that Pham would have a solid week of practice heading into the team’s showdown against Cornell this weekend.
“He’s trying to find his groove,” Goswami said of his first singles player. “Since he was out of tennis for three weeks, he’s still getting back into it.”
The weekend also represented a step forward for first-year Jack Lin, who has shown signs of incredible potential during his up-and-down first year in Morningside Heights. After struggling during the Texas trip and coming into Ivy League play, Lin overpowered Brown’s Jacob Walker in a 6-3, 6-2 victory on Saturday, and was serving for the match up 6-1, 5-2 against Yale’s Andrew Heller before play was halted.
Meanwhile, Tang, who dropped down to No. 56 in the ITA rankings, won first sets against both Brown and Yale but struggled to hold onto leads in the second set. He was unable to finish either match.
Perhaps the silver lining for Goswami in what was a dominant weekend was the return of both sophomore Alex Keyser and junior Timothy Wang to the lineup after they dealt with injury and illness, respectively.
Keyser played at fifth singles against Brown—his first match since playing against Buffalo on March 30—and hung in against the Bears’ Ching Lam winning a first-set tiebreak 7-6(3). The sophomore, who has dealt with knee injuries all season long, was not included in the lineup against Yale due to the return of Wang, who gave the Lions a much-needed jolt—one that has made the junior’s unorthodox playing style vital to the Lions’ success over the past three seasons.
Wang, who was absent from three consecutive Ivy matches, returned with a vengeance and cruised past Yale’s Fedor Andrienko 6-0, 6-2. Wang has not lost an Ancient Eight match in three years.
All in all, it was a dominant weekend for the Lions, one that Goswami felt was desperately needed after the team’s stunning home loss to Dartmouth.
“I was happy with the outcome, and it was good to go out and play these matches,” Goswami said. “But now we need to get ready for a really tough match against Cornell, and it should be a good week of practice.”
The Lions will next take the Big Red in Ithaca with a fifth-consecutive Ivy League title on the line. Cornell, which was ranked No. 47 in the most recent ITA rankings, will have plenty at stake as a victory over Columbia would make a trip in the NCAA Championships more likely.
Should the Lions top the Big Red, they would share the title with Dartmouth and would have a shot at hosting an NCAA regional for the first time in program history. First serve from Ithaca is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.