William and Mary looked to win their first match of the season, returning to the McCormack-Nagelsen tennis center to host two Ivy League opponents February 23rd and 24th. The Tribe was coming off an unsuccessful road trip, having fallen to Penn State and Liberty the weekend before, beginning their weekend on Saturday against Yale. The Tribe lost 4-1, despite all three doubles matches going to tiebreaker and singles matches going to a third set. The Bulldogs earned redemption after suffering back to back losses in their last two competitions, both 4-3.
Doubles match started the day, and at No. 2, freshman Oren Vasser and sophomore Tristan Bautil faced Cody Lin and Ryan Cheng. Bautil and Vasser would play aggressively towards the net, creating high paced points with many volleys. This chaotic style led to a neck and neck match, with Bulldogs Lin and Cheng taking a 5-4 lead late in the set. The Tribe players responded, taking back the tenth game, and sweeping the eleventh, getting a 6-5 lead in the set. The Bulldogs came out in the 12th game, sending court two into a tiebreaker. Vasser and Bautil sealed the tiebreaker, 7-2.
Sophomores Finbar Talcott and Sebastian Quiros played Amav Dhingra and Nathan Brown in the No. 3 spot. They started their set down 3-1 and followed it with a sweep of the fifth game to pull them back into contention, 3-2. The sophomores battled to a 4-4 score and swept their ninth game for a decisive 5-4 lead. Trading games, the Tribe players gained a 6-5 lead and an opportunity to close the set. In the 12th game, Talcott and Quiros took a 40-15 lead, but lost the following three set points, sending it to a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker finished as Talcott and Quiros fell, putting the doubles score at 1-1.
The doubles set matchup at the No. 1 slot featured sophomore Chen Ruo and junior Brenden Volk versus Bulldogs Michael Sun and Dylan King. Chen and Volk consistently played behind a game, battling back to a 4-4 score. They took their fifth game of the set on a deuce point, but Sun and King immediately returned, taking the tenth game and tying the score 5-5. The 11th game went to the Tribe, and the 12th to the Bulldogs. By the tiebreaker, No. 2 and No. 3 were finished, and all eyes were on No. 1 to decide who would take the doubles point. Up 4-3, Volk double faulted to tie the score 4-4, which began the four-point swing which gave Yale the tiebreaker, the set, and the double point.
All three double sets going into tiebreaker, the players took a momentary breather before their singles matches.
Vasser and Dhinga had a fast first set at No. 4, as the freshman took the first set 6-3, winning the last three games in a row. He continued to perform at the beginning of the second set, pulling out a 3-1 lead. Vasser finished the set 6-2, sweeping the last game, claiming his match, and the Tribe’s first point of the day to tie Yale’s doubles point, 1-1.
At the No. 5 spot, Chen pulled out to a 5-2 lead over Lin, but the Bulldog rallied, winning the next two games to send it to 5-4. Back and forth games ultimately led to a tiebreaker, which Chen lost, costing him the set despite his early lead. The second set was a battle in which Chen fought from behind, but his comeback would not be as fruitful, and the sophomore fell 6-4, losing his match, giving the Bulldogs their second point of the day, 2-1.
At No. 2, King and Quiros had a more long-distance battle. The Tribe sophomore battled consistently from behind until pulling out the ninth game for a 5-4 lead in the first set. The set eventually came to a tiebreaker which Quiros lost, dropping the first set 7-6. The second set continued to be a challenge for Quiros, as he fell behind 4-1 to start. But once again the sophomore rallied to win the next two to send the score to 4-3. The second set once again came to a tiebreaker, and King found another victory, claiming his match and Yale’s third point of the day.
At the No. 6 spot, senior Michael Ruamthong made quick work of his first set, winning 6-0. The performance was soon forgotten as Heller had a strong 4-1 start to begin the second set. Heller capitalized on his strong start and finished the set 6-4, sending No. 6 into a third set. In the third set, Heller took control, running the score up to a 5-1 lead. Ruamthong took the seventh game, staving off a loss, 5-2. Heller won the eighth game, finishing his set 6-2, his match 2-1, and the day for Yale, 4-1.
Volk opened against Sun at No. 1 and struggled, falling down 3-0 to begin his first set. He won the next two games, clinching the second on a 40-40 point and putting himself back in contention with a 3-2 score line. He then gained the lead, 5-4. Volk won the next game and complete the set victory on a 6-1 run. The second set started more evenly at 3-3, but ultimately was closed out by Sun 6-4, setting up for a third set. Sun took a 4-0 lead in the third set. The match finished in the middle of the last set,
No. 3 featured Cheng and Talcott. Talcott struggled to gain control during the initial points and lost his first set, 6-3. In the second set, the sophomore trailed 4-3 and faced a 2-0 defeat, but rallied in a 3-1 run to take the score to 6-5 in his favor. He closed his set 7-5, sending the match to a third set. In a back-and-forth third set, the score went to 4-4 before the match was won by Yale.
Yale’s win stops their two-game skid and puts them back above .500. They play at Old Dominion Sunday the 24th and are back home against New Jersey Institute of Technology Saturday, March 9th. The Tribe still looks to pick up its first match win having started 0-8 on the season, facing Penn on Sunday.