Went to the Yale v. Trinity match last week in Hartford. The Eli women crushed the Bantam women, 6-3 and very quickly. I was sitting with Yale coach Dave Talbott in the gallery, chatting away casually, and a match finished and Dave quietly said, well, that’s five. And this was just over an hour into the match.
In under two hours it was finished. An undefeated Yale, with its combo of players from the Main Line (two, including #1 and captain Logan Greer), Greenwich (four) and the U.K. (two), is looking very strong. Trinity has only one player from Yale’s three hotspots, but instead has players from Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Germany, Scotland, Mexico, Colombia, Malaysia and Canada.
That international flavor is more what you’d expect from the Trinity men and surprisingly, they actually seem riven with Americans at the moment. In the highly anticipated rematch of the controversial 2010 national championship bout with Yale, they won 7-2. Trinity started two Americans in their top nine. Both were Brunswick boys, Travis Judson, a senior, at #8 and Matt Mackin, a freshman at #9. It was the first time in over a decade that in a match against a top opponent Paul Assaiante fielded a team with more than one American.
Both Travis and Matt lost, but there is more to the story. Travis won the first game easily and then it got a lot harder against Johnny Roberts of Ireland. But in the fourth, Travis was down 8-9 and then at match point at 9-10 and went on to win the game 12-10 when Roberts tinned on two straight points. Travis lost in five but it was a good effort.
Matt lost in four. It was, psychologically, almost a foregone conclusion. A freshman, this was his first big college match. Trinity was still on winter break, so the galleries were pretty packed (with Salisbury, New Haven Lawn Club and other juniors, as well as some Trinity winter sports teams and the usual gaggle of middle-aged men who avidly follow the Bantams) but it was not stuffed with supporters like most matches. More critically, he was playing Rob Berner. When Matt was a high school freshman and unable to make the varsity at Brunswick, Berner was a senior and a big stud on campus. Matt even paid Berner $30 a pop to give him lessons. So it was going to be pretty hard for the student to beat his teacher in his first attempt.
Trinity went on to win two more dual matches this past weekend, so the streak is now at 232. The only sour note came the morning after the Yale match, when the front page of the Hartford Courant’s sports page had a three-column photo of a fist-pumping Parth Sharma and a prone Kenny Chan. After what Kenny endured last time out, with Baset Ashfaq’s notorious explosion, it was unfortunate to see him portrayed that way.
By the way, Kenny was treated well by the Trinity fans, with no comments or hostility. That might have been in part because the CSA launched a roving referee system at this match, with two unaffiliated refs (coaches from nearby high schools) roaming the galleries and assisting the refereeing. They do this in college tennis, and it is a good sign of a maturing CSA that it is finally attacking the issues of crowd behavior, player sportsmanship and match marking that has been bedeviling college matches in the past few years.