Men’s tennis starts season strong at Dartmouth Invitational

by Mark Cui | 10/14/15 7:00pm

The Dartmouth men’s tennis team hosted its first event of the 2015-16 season, the Dartmouth Invitational, this past weekend. A total of nine teams — Amherst College, Brown University, Fairfield University, Middlebury College, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the United States Military Academy, Williams College and Yale University — participated in the tournament at the Boss Tennis Center. Over the three-day tournament, Dartmouth went 14-7 in singles and 9-1 in doubles.

“Overall, the results were pretty good,” head coach Chris Drake said. “We got what we needed for the team. We took a couple of steps forward.”

On the first day of the Dartmouth Invitational, Dartmouth went 4-3 in singles action. Three of the Big Green’s seven singles matches went the full three sets, and of those the team won two.

Despite dropping the first set of his match 3-6, Max Fliegner ’18 won the next two sets 6-4, 6-1 to pull out an impressive win over Yale senior Martin Svenning. Dartmouth’s Eddie Grabill ’19, Roko Glasnovic ’19 and Paul Midgley ’18 also emerged victorious for the day.

The team dominated the second day of the tournament, going 6-1 in singles and 2-1 in doubles. Rather than a three-set format for doubles, the participants played a pro set to eight. Two of the doubles matches were nail-biters. Max Schmidt ’17 and Glasnovic defeated Buffalo’s Tony Miller and Akhil Mehta 8-6 while Joey Haig ’19 and Grabill clung on to win against Buffalo’s Ethan Nittolo and Pablo Alvarez 8-7. Only one of the singles matches went into a full three sets, in which Haig defeated Buffalo’s Mehta 6-0, 6-7, 6-0.

Haig credited his calm mindset as a factor in his success in the final set.

“I just tried to get the game back under control and finish it off,” Haig said.

On the final day, Dartmouth went 4-3 in singles and 3-0 in doubles, wrapping up the tournament with an outstanding overall record of 23-8. Haig had a standout performance in the tournament, finishing with a 2-1 singles record and a 2-0 doubles record. The freshman is now an astounding 8-0 in doubles this season.

“We’ve seen quite some improvement this tournament. [Haig’s] serve, especially, was better,” Drake said.

The other two freshmen, Glasnovic and Grabill, also had strong showings at the tournament.

“I think the freshmen are settling in well. They’ve been playing well. [Grabill] always puts himself in a position to win,” Drake said. “Same with [Glasnovic]. He competed well. He also seems like he’s pretty good at finding ways to win matches.”

The week prior to the Dartmouth Invitational, the men’s tennis team participated in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championship in Oklahoma. It is one of the largest tournaments of the year with over 350 players participating from around the country.

On the first day of the tournament, Brendan Tannenbaum ’16 lost in the pre-qualifying round to East Tennessee State University’s Diego Nunez 4-6, 6-1, 3-6. Tannenbaum rebounded in the consolation round, cruising to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over the College of William & Mary’s Aiden Talcott. Dartmouth also sent three other players, Diego Pedraza ’17, Ciro Riccardi ’18 and Dovydas Sakinis ’16, to the tournament.

Pedraza defeated University of Nebraska’s Dusty Boyer 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of qualifying before falling to San Diego State University’s Hendrik Jebens 7-6 (9), 4-6, 4-6. In the second Riccardi lost to the University of Florida’s Alfredo Perez 4-6, 4-6 in the first round, but won his consolation round against Eastern Washington University’s Victor Pereira 6-3, 6-1.

Out of the Dartmouth singles players, Sakinis lasted the longest, defeating the Florida’s Chase Perez-Blanco 6-3, 6-4 in the first round and Denver University’s Henry Craig in the second round through a walkover before falling to Northwestern University’s Konrad Zieba in the Round of 16 with a score of 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-6.

“It was disappointing,” Sakinis said. “I wish I could’ve gone farther, but it was a great experience.”

The four Dartmouth singles players combined to form two double teams for the tournament. The duo of Pedraza and Riccardi lost in the first round of qualifying to Wake Forest University’s Jonathan Ho and Keivon Tabrizi 5-7, 6-7 (4).

Taking advantage of a first round bye, Dartmouth’s other doubles team, Sakinis and Tannenbaum, emerged victorious against Texas A&M’s AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 6-2 and the University of San Francisco’s Nils Skajaa and Vasco Valverde 6-4, 6-4. Despite their impressive play, the duo fell to University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Vikram Hundal and Jordi Massalle Ferrer in the third round of qualifying.

“There were some of the best teams in the country, and our guys still held up pretty well,” Drake said.

The team’s next tournament is the ITA Northeast Regional Champion at New Haven, Connecticut, from Oct. 22 to 27.