-->

No. 11 California Edges Yale in Thriller

Tyler Lu (photo by Alexandra Schmeling)
Tyler Lu (photo by Alexandra Schmeling)

Doehler, King, Lu Beat Nationally Ranked Opponents in Narrow 4-3 Loss to No. 11 California

 BERKELEY, Calif. – The Yale men's tennis team saw its ten-match come to a dramatic halt on Wednesday in a nail-biter 4-3 loss to California. The Bulldogs' opponents came into the match ranked No. 11 in the nation (in contrast to Yale's current ranking of No. 48), having secured highlight victories over No. 4 Baylor and No. 10 UCLA; as such, the Bears represented the Bulldogs' toughest challenge of the season. Despite the elite quality of the opposition, the Elis looked far from outmatched on Wednesday, with three star players – Stefan Doehler, Dylan King and Tyler Lu – winning their singles matches and pushing Yale within just a few points of victory. These three victories came as significant upsets given the higher national singles rankings of the Cal players, and will undoubtedly boost the Elis' confidence going forward.

Wednesday's match in Berkeley began with a hard-fought round of doubles. Cal jumped out to take an early lead, with star duo Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat (ranked No. 4 in the country) downing Yale's Doehler and Alex Hagermoser 6-2 at the No. 1 spot. The Bulldogs soon rallied back, with Lu and Photos Photiades edging Cal's Bjorn Hoffmann and J.T. Nishimura 6-4 at the No. 3 spot; this result marked the senior pairing's third straight victory together. The Bears ultimately managed to take the doubles point, however, when No. 2 team Andre Goransson and Billy Griffith completed a 6-2 win over Yale's King and Ziqi Wang. 

Given the competitive nature of Wednesday's doubles action, the Elis headed into singles play with the belief that they could pull of a major upset. So, although the Bulldogs initially fell behind 2-0 after Cal's Hoffman beat freshman Andrew Heller in straight sets at No. 5 singles, they never gave up hope. Junior Stefan Doehler was first to kick off a comeback, submitting an impressive 7-5, 7-5 victory over Cal's Bergevi at No. 4 singles; this result not only marked Doehler's first win over a nationally ranked opponent this season, but also extended his current win streak to ten matches. Freshman Dylan King followed suit with an impressive victory of his own, coming back from a tough first set to beat Cal's Griffith 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; similar to Doehler, King has earned a string of wins (nine) recently, and Wednesday's result came against an opponent with a high national singles ranking of No. 71.

With the match score tied at 2-2, senior captain Tyler Lu gave Yale its first lead with a major upset at No. 1 singles. Facing one of the best players in the nation in Cal's Florian Lakat (ranked No. 13 nationally), the Bulldog submitted his best performance of the season, leveraging an early lead and holding on in the third for a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win. Although Lu's match was close, Dennis Wang's match at No. 6 singles may have been even closer, with the sophomore falling just a few points short of victory in a 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 loss to Cal's Connor Heap.

With the score tied at 3-3, Wednesday's thrilling match came down to the battle between Yale's Ziqi Wang and Cal's Andre Goransson at the No. 2 spot. Although the Bulldog started the match well by taking the first set in a tiebreak over the No. 48-ranked Goransson, the Cal player proved too strong in the later stages of the match, taking the final two sets 6-4, 6-1 and clinching the result for the home side.

Although the Elis are always disappointed to walk away with a loss, their level of play on Wednesday was arguably the highest it has been all season, and the team can take pride in its performance given the absence of injured freshman Ryan Cheng from the starting lineup. If the team can consistently perform at such a high level – matching that of team ranked in the top 15 nationally – an Ivy League title could be within reach. The Bulldogs will next take the court on Apr. 1 for their final non-conference dual match against St. John's.

Report by Cameron Ferguson '18, Yale Sports Publicity
 

FULL MATCH RESULTS – Cal 4, Yale 3

Position

 Yale University

 California

 Winner

 Score

 #1 Singles

 #103 Tyler Lu

 #13 Florian Lakat

 Yale University

 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

 #2 Singles

 Ziqi Wang

 #48 Andre Goransson

 California

 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1

 #3 Singles

 Dylan King

 #71 Billy Griffith

 Yale University

 2-6, 6-3, 6-4

 #4 Singles

 Stefan Doehler

 #108 Filip Bergevi

 Yale University

 7-5, 7-5

 #5 Singles

 Andrew Heller

 Bjorn Hoffmann

 California

 6-3, 6-2

 #6 Singles

 Dennis Wang

 Connor Heap

 California

 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5

 #1 Doubles

 Stefan Doehler 
 Alex Hagermoser

 #4 Filip Bergevi 
 Florian Lakat

 California

 6-2

 #2 Doubles

 Dylan King 
 Ziqi Wang

 #65 Andre Goransson 
 Billy Griffith

 California

 6-2

 #3 Doubles

 Tyler Lu 
 Photos Photiades

 J.T. Nishimura 
 Bjorn Hoffmann

 Yale University

 6-4