NEW YORK - Down 3-0 to favored Yale, the Columbia men's tennis team staged a huge rally to beat the Bulldogs, 4-3, earning their first Ivy League win of the season. The match came down to No.4 singles, where sophomore John Yetimoglu rallied to win the second and third sets in tiebreakers and clinch the match for the Lions in thrilling fashion.
The win was a revenge of sorts for Columbia, as Yale was the only team to beat the Lions in the 2009-10 Ivy League championship season. That match was also a 4-3 thriller that went to Yale. This year, however, the Lions were ready for the Bulldogs, and mounted one of the most exciting comebacks in recent memory.
The match started on the wrong note for Columbia, as Yale took the doubles point and an early lead. Brothers Tizian Bucher and Cyril Bucher had a tough loss in the No.1 spot, 8-1 to Marc Powers and Daniel Hoffman, and the Bulldogs clinched the point when Rajeev Deb-Sen and Haig Schneiderman lost in the No.2 doubles spot, 8-4. The Lions did show signs of life, however, as the new doubles pairing of John Yetimoglu and Nathaniel Gery had a dominating win in the No.3 spot, 8-4.
Singles saw the Bulldogs win two quick points to go up on the Lions, 3-0. Sophomore Cyril Bucher fell to John Huang in the No.2 spot, 6-2, 6-0, and Gery lost to Hoffman at No.3, 7-5, 6-1. Up 3-0 on the Lions, Yale needed just one more point to take the point and effectively end the match. But Columbia did not falter.
At No.1, junior Haig Schneiderman had a huge win, as he took an early lead on Yale’s Powers. Schneiderman dominated the first set, winning 6-0, before Powers found his footing. In the second, it was closer, as Powers evened it out with a 6-3 win. But Schneiderman stayed focused, and dismantled Powers in the third set, 6-2, taking the win 6-0, 3-6, 6-2. His win put the Lions on the board, 3-1.
Next was first-year Tizian Bucher, who also had a three set win in the No.5 spot. There, he beat Joel Samaha, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Down 3-2, the Lions were still on the hunt. Junior Rajeev Deb-Sen tied it up in the No.6 singles spot, as he beat Yale’s Jordan Abergel, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. With the score tied up at 3-3, the match came down to No.4 singles, where sophomore John Yetimoglu was battling with Erik Blumenkrantz. As the match tied up, Yetimoglu had rallied after a first set loss to win the second set in a tiebreaker. With all eyes on them, the two took the court for a third set, knowing that the team match would be determined by their play.
As the team match had been, and the two sets before them were, the third set between Yetimoglu and Blumenkrantz was a battle. The two stayed on serve for most of the set, fighting it out as their teammates looked on. At one point, Yetimoglu was serving down 5-4, with Blumenkrantz leading the game, 30-40. With match point on the line, Yetimoglu rallied to win three straight points, tie the match up at 5-5, and stay in it. From there, the two tied it up at 6-6, and went to a tiebreaker. There, Yetimoglu held on to win it, 9-7, in one of the most dramatic finishes of the year for the Lions. He finished with a final score of 4-6, 7-6, 7-6(7).
With the win, the Lions are now 7-12 overall and 1-2 in the Ivy League, while Yale falls to 9-9 overall and 1-2 in the Ivy League. Up next for Columbia is another huge home match, as the Lions will host Brown, Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m. Brown is the most recent winner in the match up, as the Bears beat the Lions in February, 5-2.
Columbia 4, Yale 3
1. Daniel Hoffman/Marc Powers (YALE) def. Tizian Bucher/Cyril Bucher (COL) 8-1
2. Erik Blumenkranz/Joel Samaha (YALE) def. Rajeev Deb-Sen/Haig Schneiderman (COL) 8-4
3. Nathaniel Gery/John Yetimoglu (COL) def. Calvin Bennett/John Huang (YALE) 8-4
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3
1. Haig Schneiderman (COL) def. Marc Powers (YALE) 6-0, 3-6, 6-2
2. John Huang (YALE) def. Cyril Bucher (COL) 6-2, 6-0
3. Daniel Hoffman (YALE) def. Nathaniel Gery (COL) 7-5, 6-1
4. John Yetimoglu (COL) def. Erik Blumenkranz (YALE) 4-6, 7-6, 7-6(7)
5. Tizian Bucher (COL) def. Joel Samaha (YALE) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
6. Rajeev Deb-Sen (COL) def. Jordan Abergel (YALE) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1, 5, 6 ,4*