Dovydas Sakinis ’16 wins ITA Northeast Regional Singles Title

by Mark Cui | 11/4/15 6:01pm

From Oct. 22 to Oct. 26, eight members of the men’s tennis team competed in the Intercollegiate Northeast Regional Championship hosted by Yale University. Dovydas Sakinis ’16 became the second Big Green singles player — and the first since 1992 — to capture the championship with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Columbia University freshman Victor Pham. Roko Glasnovic ’19 and Diego Pedraza ’17 came just short of winning the doubles title for Darmouth, losing to Columbia juniors Richard Pham and Shawn Hadavi in the final round in three sets, 6-2, 3-6 (10-8).

“Overall the team did quite well,” head coach Chris Drake said. “We were one of the few teams with all eight guys in the main draw. Guys competed well all around. It’s certainly something we can build on for the rest of the year.”

Glasnovic and Max Schmidt ’17 had to play their way through two qualifying matches to reach the main draw of the singles tournament. Glasnovic cruised through his matches, defeating Boston College junior Aiden McNulty 6-3, 6-1 and New Jersey Institute of Technology freshman Lukas Zvikas 6-0, 6-1. Schmidt also made his way into the main draw with two wins.

The main draw of the tournament formally began on Oct. 23. Dartmouth won three singles matches, but Glasnovic’s run came to an end with a three-set loss. The Big Green won its lone doubles match on the first day of play, as its two other teams both received byes to the next round.

After receiving byes in the first round, Sakinis, Brendan Tannenbaum ’16 and Ciro Riccardi ’18 advanced to the round of 32. The other four members of the team bowed out of the singles tournament.

Tannenbaum was unable to play in the round of 32, but Sakinis and Riccardi continued their run of form. Sakinis disposed of Brown University freshman Mladen Mitak 6-2, 6-0, and Riccardi dispatched Princeton University junior Joshua Yablon in straight sets. In a singles field thinned to 16, two Big Green players remained.

Riccardi’s journey ended in the round of 16 as he failed to keep up with Columbia’s Shawn Hadavi and ended his singles tournament with a 6-0, 6-3 loss. Sakinis, who still had not dropped a set during the tournament, continued his momentum dispatching his opponent 7-6, 6-1.

Sakinis encountered his first real test in the quarterfinals. Playing against Columbia senior Eric Rubin, Sakinis dropped the first set of the match — his first of the tournament — 7-5. Despite the small setback, Sakinis quickly regrouped and closed the match with 6-4, 6-2 sets.

In the semifinals, Sakinis found himself in a similar situation. Once again, he went down a set early and battled back to win his next two for a spot in the tournament final.

“He’s gotten better at finding ways to win matches,” Drake said. “He wasn’t panicking and stayed calm. [Sakinis] has grown significantly in that regard. We also worked on his serve a lot and it really kept him in the matches, and then in the third set of those matches, he began playing really well.”

Sakinis squared off against Columbia’s phenom freshman Victor Pham in the finals. Pham was ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation in his high school class, but he was unable to match Sakinis’ pace. Finding some of his best form of the tournament, Sakinis downed Pham 6-3,6-2 to claim the championship for Dartmouth.

“I was so exhausted and tired after the [semifinals,] but in the morning [of the finals] I just felt great,” Sakinis said. “I don’t know why. I just felt it was going to be a great day. I played probably my best match of the tournament, and I was happy that it was in the finals.”

With the victory, Sakinis qualified for the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship in November.

In addition to singles, Dartmouth sent three doubles teams to the tournament. All three squads made it to the round of 16, but only the duo of Pedraza and Glasnovic was able to survive and move into the quarterfinals. The Dartmouth pair beat its counterparts from Colgate University in the quarterfinals for a spot in the semifinals and the opportunity to avenge the loss of teammates Max Fleigner ’18 and Schmidt to Princeton’s Luke Gamble and Alexander Day.

Pedraza and Glasnovic accomplished what their teammates could not and took down Gamble and Day 7-5, 7-5 in the semifinals. In another Dartmouth-Columbia finals, this time the Big Green was edged by the Lions.

“I’m pretty upset we didn’t win in the finals,” Glasnovic said. “It was hard. Honestly, entering the tournament, I didn’t think I could make it to the finals. But when we got there with my partner [Pedraza], who was very good, we definitely felt we could win it.”

Members of the team will next travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to play in the Wake Forest Invitational this Friday through Sunday.