Men’s tennis takes second at ECAC tournament

by Chanelle Qi | 2/17/15 6:01pm

The men’s tennis team traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts over the weekend to compete in the ECAC Division I Indoor Tennis Championship. After defeating the No. 7 seed St. John’s University 4-3 and shutting out No. 6 seeded Brown University 4-0, the Big Green suffered a 5-0 loss against top-seeded Harvard University in the finals. The men are now 5-4 in their season.

Ranked No. 50 in the nation, the men entered the ECAC tournament seeded No. 2 of 10 teams. After receiving a bye for the first round, the men faced off against St. John’s (3-3) in the quarterfinal round.

The No. 1 doubles team of Chris Kipouras ’15 and Dovydas Sakinis ’16 set off the team’s momentum, dominating their opponents 6-3. No. 2 doubles duo Brendan Tannenbaum ’16 and Max Schmidt ’17 proceeded to win the second doubles match for the Big Green with a score of 6-4, ensuring Dartmouth’s 1-0 lead heading into singles matches.

The doubles match against St. John’s was the first time Tannenbaum and Schmidt competed together all season.

“We worked a lot on doubles over past 10 days, and Schmidt and Tannenbaum [were] one of those combinations that we thought would complement each other well,” head coach Chris Drake said.

Singles match play began with No. 4 player Diego Pedraza ’17 falling to St. John’s Elio Livi 6-4, 6-3. The Big Green wasn’t shaken by the loss, however, and No. 1 player Sakinis and No. 2 player Kipouras responded by winning their matches both with scores of 6-2, 7-5. St. John’s responded with two points of their own, and the Big Green’s No. 3 Ciro Riccardi ’18 and No. 5 Tannenbaum were defeated in straight sets.

With the score tied 3-3, the outcome of the competition rested on No. 6 player Max Fliegner ’18 and his match against St. John’s Federico Ruiz Acevedo. After winning his first set with a close score of 7-5, Fliegner won his second set with a convincing 6-3 margin to bring the victory to the Big Green.

With their first tournament victory under their belt, the men prepared to square off against Brown (5-1) in the semifinals. After facing a two-hour delay due to weather and court availability issues, the men were able to begin doubles play. No. 3 doubles team Pedraza and Sam Todd ’15 were the first to finish their match, crushing their opponents with a score of 6-1. No. 2 doubles team Tannenbaum and Schmidt were once again victorious, defeating Brown’s duo of Ivan Kravtchenko and Greg Garcia 6-3 and putting the Big Green ahead 1-0.

Schmidt credited the doubles matches as a key part of the weekend’s success.

“Getting the doubles point was a huge factor in our matches against St. John’s and Brown,” he said. “As a team, keeping our composure also really helped. We weren’t jumpy or anxious, and everyone did a good job executing when they had to.”

The first two singles wins came at the hands of No. 3 player Riccardi and No. 1 player Sakinis, with scores of 6-2, 7-5 and 6-4, 6-2, respectively. Tannenbaum’s 6-4, 6-4 victory at No. 5 singles was the final win the Big Green needed to secure the overall victory and its position in the ECAC finals.

In the finals against No. 1 seeded Harvard, the men fought hard in doubles match play. Tannenbaum and Schmidt pulled an upset over Harvard’s No. 2 doubles team of Nicky Hu and Sebastian Beltrame, winning their match 6-3. The momentum stalled after the match, though, as No. 3 doubles Pedraza and Todd lost 6-3 to Harvard’s Grant Solomon and Alex Steinroeder.

With the doubles point resting on the outcome of the No. 1 doubles match, the nationally-ranked No. 16 team of Sakinis and Kipouras fell in an extremely close match by a score of 7-6(1) for the duo’s first loss of the season. With the Big Green trailing 0-1 heading into singles, the men had a difficult time turning the tide against Harvard. After dropping four of six singles matches in straight sets, the men had to settle for second place overall in the tournament.

“Harvard is a really good team and ranked in the top 25 in the country, so we had to execute our games and take advantage of any opportunities,” Drake said. “We had a really close match during doubles that we weren’t able to take, and Harvard was able to get on us during singles.”

In an interview with gocrimson.com, Harvard associate head coach Andrew Rueb noted that the Ivy League is “getting tougher and tougher” with more teams falling into the top national rankings. Rueb said the Crimson “had to play some our best tennis of the year” to oust the Big Green in the finals.

Next up, the men’s tennis team will host Binghamton University this Friday, with play beginning at 6 p.m.