Men’s tennis takes fourth place at ECAC indoor championship

by Ethan Strauss | 2/17/20 2:10am

tennis

The Big Green competed in the ECAC Indoor Championship this weekend.

by Kyle Spencer / The Dartmouth Staff

This weekend, the Dartmouth men’s tennis team traveled to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championship. The team entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, coming in undefeated with an 8-0 record, but finished the tournament in fourth place. 

Last season, the team lost in the semifinals to the University of Pennsylvania, the eventual champion, before defeating Princeton University 4-0 to secure third place. This year, with the addition of strong freshman and no departures from last year’s roster, the Big Green arrived confident in the team’s abilities to make another deep run or even come home with the trophy. 

“Last year we were really close,” said Charlie Broom ’20. “This year we haven’t really lost anyone from the lineup, and there are three new freshman that have done a great job of working hard. We have so much strength and depth that pushes everyone to get better.”

The team started out the weekend by convincingly defeating No. 7 Yale University, 4-1. The Bulldogs are coached by former Dartmouth head coach Chris Drake, who sat at the helm for nine years in Hanover.

Yale jumped out to an early lead after winning its first doubles match, as the Bulldogs’ Michael Sun and Arnav Dhingra beat Broom and Pierce Widdecombe ’22, 6-4, before Dartmouth turned the match around with dominant singles play.

Widdecombe fared better in singles, starting out the round with a vengeful win of 6-2, 6-1 over Yale’s Dhingra. Dan Martin ’21 followed by defeating Andrew Heller 6-2, 6-3 ,while Peter Conklin ’21 beat Robert Shymansky in a tight second set, winning 6-2, 7-5. Anders Gibbons ’23 narrowly won, 6-3, 7-6(4), to clinch the match for the Big Green and maintain the team’s undefeated record.

“Pierce Widdecombe had a great win against Yale, impressively putting a quick point on the board,” said David Horneffer ’20. “Everyone’s been competing well.”

Following the win over Yale, the Big Green advanced to the semifinals to face No. 3 Cornell. The home team — entering the match with a 4-1 record — knocked the Big Green out in the same round Dartmouth lost last year, winning 4-1. 

Dartmouth lost the early doubles points again as Cornell’s Evan Bynoe and Pietro Rimondini defeated Gibbons and Martin 6-1, while Lev Kazakov and Daniel Soyfer upset No. 51 Conklin and Casey Ross ’21, 6-3. 

Coming into the weekend, the Big Green had hoped that its previous experience of winning close matches this season would help them overcome the Big Red’s challenge.

“It’s great for the team that these guys have trust in their teammates that they can perform deep in these matches” said head coach Xander Centenari ’13. “We build confidence that when it comes down to it, we can win any match.”

In singles, the Big Green started out hot again, with Martin bouncing back to beat Alafia Ayeni 6-1, 6-4. A trio of singles losses handed the Big Green its first team loss of the year and a ticket to the third place game, as Eero Vasa beat Broom 7-6(2), 6-3, Soyfer defeated Widdecombe 6-0, 7-6(7) and Rimondini set down Gibbons 6-2, 6-2.

“We knew the tournament would be tough, but there are definitely some positives,” Horneffer said. “I thought Dan Martin played a really great match today against a tough opponent. [Widdecombe] stepped up and battled even though it didn’t come out his way.” 

Dartmouth headed into a third place match against Princeton on Sunday for the second straight year, aiming to avenge a 6-1 loss in Princeton last year despite beating the Tigers in last year’s third place game. This match marked the fourth straight year Dartmouth played Princeton in the ECAC Indoor Championship.

“Princeton is a team we know really well; we’ve played a lot of these guys before and we have specific strategies,” Horneffer said.

For the third straight day, Dartmouth started the match by dropping its doubles matches. After Horneffer sat out the first two days with a shoulder injury, he rejoined his partner Broom, but the No. 8 Tigers’ duo of Ryan Seggerman and Payton Holden toppled Dartmouth’s No. 30 duo 6-1. Karl Poling and Bill Duo defeated Martin and Gibbons 6-4 in the No. 3 doubles match.

Dominik Pauli ’23 started out the singles portion strong with a decisive win over Princeton’s Bill Duo 6-1, 6-1. However, the Big Green was unable to capitalize on the win, with Alejandro Quiles ’23 falling to Will Peters shortly thereafter 6-2, 6-3. The Tigers closed the day out with two close victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Both matches went to three sets, with Broom falling short against Karl Poling 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and Martin losing to Ryan Seggerman 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Horneffer and Centenari said the team took the weekend as a great chance to scout the other Ivy League teams before league play begins in April. The Big Green will look to rebound against Cornell and Princeton later in the season as they did against Penn last year. 

“The tournament is a good chance for us to see where we are at before Ivy’s.” Horneffer said. “Last year, we lost to Penn but were able to play them again and beat them.”

The Big Green will continue nonconference play in two weeks at the University of Indiana.