It’s the start of a new year and one of head coach Martin Heath’s New Year’s resolutions is seeing the Yellowjackets climb the national rankings with a transplant from the top 30 to the top 20.
It’s a move that hasn’t happened to the team since 1998 when they were listed as No. 18 and at the start of the next season were quickly pushed back to No. 24. They haven’t shed their top 30 title since.
The team looked to kick off the second half of their 2006-07 season with Yale University playing host to a round robin competition featuring No. 12 Bates College, No. 14 Tufts University, No. 23 Northeastern University and No. 27 Northwestern University.
The Yellowjackets drew Bates for the first match of the three day melee, and Bates proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it deserved its No. 12 spot. Bates ended up crushing the Yellowjackets 8-1. The lone victory was a hard-fought battle, featuring two of the most evenly matched players around. In one corner there was No. 11 nationally-ranked freshman Jim Bristow and in the other No. 12 nationally-ranked Ricky Weisskopf.
Weiskopf stole the first two matches from Bristow 9-5, 9-7. Bristow had had enough and decided it was time to commit a little armed robbery with a 9-8 steal in the third round, and made a clean getaway with 9-1, 9-2 scores in the fourth and fifth games, respectively.
The rest of the team was not able to combat Bates’ talent and prowess with the same level of surgical skill employed by Bristow. While several matches carried over into fourth game sets, the team was unable to pick up any real ground with the limited opportunities that Bates provided.
The Yellowjackets washed their hands of their loss against Bates with a dominating performance over Northeastern University. Bristow cleaned house at the No. 1 seat 9-1, 9-2, 9-0. Freshman Yohay Wakabayashi got cleaned out at the No. 2 seat 9-5, 9-5, 9-1. Junior Patrick Harris took his guy to the cleaners 10-8, 9-7, 9-1 at the No. 3 seat as did freshman Jamal Callender at the No. 4 spot with a score of 9-3, 9-3, 9-2.
Freshman Alex Lee downed his player in the No. 5 seat with 9-4 in the first. After losing the second match 9-6, Lee decided to wash his opponent’s mouth out with soap with some 9-4, 9-6 suds. Junior Jamie Lynn was sunk by his foe at the No. 6 position 10-8, 10-8, 9-5, but Dan Carson drowned his challenger 9-6, 9-5, 9-3.
Sophomore Ori Goldman dug himself into an early 0-2 hole 9-4, 9-1 at the No. 8, but quickly resurfaced and wrung out three straight wins 9-4, 9-7, 9-3 to post a victory. Senior Elie Biel’s No. 9 seat turned out to be a wash as he posted a 10-8, 9-2, 9-1 victory.
After enough east coast action, the Yellowjackets decided it was time to move further west in the country taking on No. 27 Northwestern. Northwestern was hardly even a speed bump on the Yellowjackets’ road to a 9-0 slaughter.
Bristow and Harris euthanized their opponents with the 9-0 hat trick. Wakabayashi, Callender and Lee swept their spots. Lynn took out his foe with a 10-8, 4-9, 9-6, 9-4 finish. Carson, Goldman and Biel each finished their opponents with a clean sweep.
The highlight match of the weekend, however, occurred against Tufts, a team that the Yellowjackets needed to knock off if they were planning on moving up the rankings ladder. Bristow did his job with 9-3, 9-4, 9-4 wins. Wakabayashi couldn’t gain any leverage against the No. 2 opponent losing 9-3, 9-2, 9-4. Harris defended the No. 3 seat with 9-0, 9-6, 9-5 scores.
Callender fought hard, forcing a game five showdown that ended up with him on the losing side of the whole match 9-7, 7-9, 4-9, 10-9, 7-9. Lee downed his opponent in four matches 9-3, 9-10, 9-5, 10-8. Lynn could not get a good enough hold on his No. 6 challenger losing 2-9, 9-5, 9-2, 9-1.
Carson was cleaned out 9-2, 9-0, 9-2, but Goldman and Biel cleaned out their adversaries 10-8, 9-3, 9-5 and 9-6, 10-8, 9-3, respectively.
The Yellowjackets 3-1 stint was an impressive start to the new year. They knocked off a competitor in the top 20 and managed to defend their current spot with ease. As of Jan. 18, the Yellowjackets were listed as No. 22 in the nation. However, with the team’s prolific and young talent, that spot will soon be owned by someone else. The Yellowjackets look to continue showing off their abilities with a home match against St. Lawrence University this Friday.
Serafini is a member of the class of 2008.