The men's tennis team (8-2) clinched third place at the ECAC Championships over the weekend. The Bears defeated Yale, 5-2, on Saturday, then dropped a 4-1 semifinal match to Columbia the next day. On Monday, the Bears obliterated Penn in the third-place match by a score of 6-0, marking their first victory over the Quakers in three years.
The tournament was hosted by Harvard, who took first place, while Columbia finished second.
"It's great to get a chance so early in the season to compete against other teams in the (Ivy) League," Captain Chris Lee '09 said. "It's a good measuring stick for where we are and where we have to go."
The Bears faced off against Yale Saturday morning, taking the doubles point with victories at first and second doubles. Captains Noah Gardner '09 and Sam Garland '09 overpowered their opponents by a score of 8-5, while at second doubles, Lee and Jonathan Pearlman '11 earned an 8-6 win.
The same four Bears also dominated in singles play. At first singles, Pearlman outlasted Yale's Jeff Dawson, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Pearlman "picked up a huge win over a guy who made the semis of the (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Regionals," Head Coach Jay Harris said. "That really says a lot about how well he's been playing."
At second singles, Lee split sets with his opponent before defeating him in the third set for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
"I thought I played pretty consistently all weekend," Lee said. "Part of the reason I was able to do that was the between-court communication we had this weekend. Each guy was loud and could be heard from six courts away. That kind of energy and communication really helps when we are playing tough matches."
Garland and Gardner had straight-set wins at fourth and fifth singles, respectively. Garland won his match, 6-4, 6-4, and Gardner won, 6-4, 7-5.
"Yale kind of hammered us in the scrimmage a couple weeks ago, so I was proud of how the guys came out and really toughed out the match," Harris said.
The next day, the Bears took on Columbia in the semifinals. The team started off strong, clinching the doubles point. Garland and Gardner led the way again at first doubles, where they had an 8-6 victory. At third doubles, Kendrick Au '11 and Charlie Posner '11 captured an 8-6 win to give Brown a 1-0 lead.
But the Bears dropped four singles matches to give the Lions the four points they needed to win. At first singles, Pearlman fell to Jon Wong by a score of 6-3, 6-1. Skate Gorham '10, Garland and Gardner also had straight-set losses at third, fourth and fifth singles, respectively. Lee and Au did not finish their respective matches at second and sixth singles once Columbia had claimed the victory.
"Against Columbia, I thought we played some good doubles, but in the singles matches, we just didn't win the key points," Lee said. "Skate, Sam, Noah and I all lost very tight first sets, and that put us in a big hole."
The Bears demolished the Quakers in Monday morning's battle for third place, winning all six singles matches. The doubles matches were not played.
The loss to Columbia "was a little disappointing, but then we came back the next day and really hammered Penn, and that's a team we haven't beaten in three years," Harris said. "It was nice to kind of show our character."
Garland kicked off the win with an easy 6-0, 6-2 victory at fourth singles.
"Sam was the spark from the start," Lee said. "He was just calling out breaks every 10 or so minutes and getting all the other guys fired up."
Au soundly defeated his foe, 6-3, 6-3 at sixth singles, and Gardner cruised to a 6-2, 6-4, win at fifth singles. Gorham clinched the victory for the Bears at third singles, overpowering his Penn opponent, 6-4, 6-1.
At second singles, Lee defeated his opponent by a score of 6-2, 7-6, while Pearlman split sets at first singles, before his opponent retired.
"In my matches against Penn and Yale, I did a great job of hanging in the match even when things weren't going well," Pearlman said. "I relaxed a lot after losing the first set in both of the matches and was able to swing loosely afterwards."
According to Pearlman, having the tournament in February instead of its normal fall date was beneficial "because it served as a marker of our progress for the spring season."
"We have a great shot at winning the Ivy League title this year, and finishing third at this tournament is a good sign that we are heading in the right direction," he said.
The Bears will compete next against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday and then will take on Georgetown on Sunday in Washington.
This weekend "will be a big challenge for us, as we play two very good teams on the road," Lee said. This weekend "more than ever, we will need great energy and between-court communication from each guy."
According to Lee, the Bears' experience at the Championships will help them in the weeks to come.
"This weekend, we really became closer as a team," he said. "Each guy developed more trust in the other guys' abilities to perform under pressure, and I think we can only get better from here."