Lions’ doubles tandem goes deep into regionals

Freshman Dean Thompson made quite a name for himself early in his career with the Lions. He and junior Jonathan Yu advanced to the finals of the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships this past weekend.

Jonathan Yu was part of the doubles regional championship. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Jonathan Yu was part of the doubles regional championship. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

Individually, both Thompson and Yu failed to reach the second day of the tournament. No. 14-seeded Thompson began Friday with 6-4, 7-5 victories over sophomore Alex Belfiore of Drew University, but fell to sophomore Jimmy Newton of Ithaca College in three sets.

Yu also started strong with a three-set win over freshman Stan Yakoff from Stevens Insititute of Technology before losing to No. 9-seeded junior Lorenzo Cabrea of Skidmore College. But the pair shook off their separate losses and beat junior Matt Chin and sophomore Matt Hursh from Hobart College with a score of 8-1.

On Saturday, the pair continued to dominate by beating Vassar College’s juniors Joshua Jasso and Gregory Katz 8-3 and Hamilton College’s freshman Jon Franzel and sophomore Andrew Libin 8-6 to reach the semifinals on Sunday.

After beating No. 3-seeded junior Carl-Eric Girardin and sophomore Luke Granger from Skidmore 8-4, Thompson and Yu advanced to the finals to face fourth-seeded senior Taylor Borda and junior Josh Rifkin of Ithaca. In a very intense battle, the match had to end in a tie-breaker.

After 3 long days of play, Thompson and Yu couldn’t hold on and were defeated 7-4.

“I think not being seeded in doubles helped us,” Thompson said. “We didn’t feel the weight of any expectations like I did being seeded in singles. Obviously I wanted to become an All-American and go to Alabama for Nationals, but I’m not at all disappointed with the way Jon and I played this weekend.”

Sophomore Steven Fernandez had an impressive, yet stunning two days of play. He held the highest individual seeding at No. 5, but didn’t advance past Saturday. Fernandez immediately sent out a warning to all competitors with a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of senior Alex Franz from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He followed this with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over sophomore Pavel Zhuravlev of New York University on Friday.

But No. 1-seeded sophomore Patrick Whitner of NYU uprooted him from the tournament in the quarterfinals with scores of 6-4 and 6-0.

“I really wasn’t feeling too positive about my game throughout the tournament,” Fernandez said. “As much as I fought through my first two matches on Friday, I was the fifth ranked seed which created such a demand to perform well. I know I could have played better against the number-one seed on Saturday, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’m going to learn from my mistakes and move on.”

Fernandez’s doubles run produced similar results. He and freshman TJ Riley defeated St. Lawrence University’s junior Jake Dexter and freshman Philip Jackley 8-2 on Friday. They kept up the effort by beating freshman Austin Armstrong and junior Ryan Kovaleski from the University of Rochester 8-6, but couldn’t maintain it, as they fell to fourth-seeded Borda and Rifkin of Ithaca 8-3.

“The team Steve and I lost to had never played that well before,” Riley comments. “We were absolutely shocked that we lost. But at least I know what I need to do to step my game up for the spring season.”

This was the final tournament for the College men’s tennis team this season. They will resume play in Spring 2010.