In a pivotal first set tiebreaker at the Connecticut State Championships semifinals, Quinnipiac freshman Andrew Weeden was up 2-1 and looking to pad an early lead against Yale sophomore Erik Blumenkranz.
Weeden won two three-set matches at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center at Yale University on Saturday before facing Blumenkranz on Sunday. Weeden battled back from a 4-3 deficit in games with Blumenkranz on serve to break back and claim a 5-4 lead.
Yale head coach Alex Dorato approached the bench and gave his player a talk heading into the next game. Whatever Dorato said worked, as Weeden had a chance to serve for the set – with teammate, and senior captain, Charlie Feldman leading a round of “WEE-DEN” cheers from the rest of the team – but Blumenkranz broke back and the two moved into a tiebreaker.
After losing the first point of the tiebreak, Weeden won the next two points to reclaim the lead, only to have Blumenkranz storm back and win six consecutive points to take the tiebreaker and the set.
“The first set could have gone either way, there is no question about it,” Quinnipiac head coach Mike Quitko said.
A disappointed Weeden didn’t give in, as he took an early 2-1 lead in the second set. Blumenkranz again proved to be too much for the freshman, as his play at the net and powerful groundstrokes were the difference late in the match bouncing Weeden out of the semifinals, 7-6, 6-2.
“I think it’s the level that we [Quinnipiac] are trying to achieve,” Quitko said. “Andrew is our fourth or fifth player in our lineup. [Making the] semifinals of this tournament is pretty good.”
Blumenkranz won the doubles championship with his teammate Daniel Hoffman and was honored with the sportsmanship award.
Weeden’s performance highlighted a successful showing from the Quinnipiac men’s tennis team in a tournament that featured the highest level of competition among the schools in Connecticut. The University of Connecticut participated, and hosted Quinnipiac, Yale, Fairfield, Sacred Heart, and Hartford in a three-day tournament that began Friday and culminated on Sunday.
The match on Sunday was Weeden’s fourth singles match in less than three days as he was victorious on Friday against UConn’s Dave Adams, 6-1, 6-2. On Saturday, Weeden won a pair of highly contested matches that included a three set battle over Fairfield’s Dan Sauter, 6-7, 6-4, 10-5 and a hard fought win against his teammate, junior Brian Mikkelson, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.
Leading up to his defeat on Saturday, Mikkelson battled in the round of 16 against Yale senior Matt Schimmel, coming out on top, 3-6, 6-1, 10-8. Schimmel was one of the four Yale singles players in the tournament, each making it at least to the round of 16.
On the other side of the tournament bracket, Quinnipiac senior John Hughes made it into the round of 16 before falling to Fairfield’s Joe Michalisin 7-5, 5-7, 0-1.
“Mikkelson is a very solid player,” Quitko said. “He beat a Yale singles player on the way, which is big. All in all I’m proud of everybody. We were in two singles back draw finals, and won one of them with Chris Nelson, who is a freshman, and showed us some stuff.”
After exiting in the first round of the main bracket on Friday against Sacred Heart’s Chad Sullo, Nelson reeled off four straight victories, including an opponent’s disqualification, in his semifinal match on Saturday to win the first round singles consolation tournament.
Also making it deep into the consolation round was Quinnipiac sophomore James Kwei. After receiving a first round bye in the main tournament, Kwei lost to Fairfield’s Erik Kremheller, 5-7, 6-2. Kwei was then placed in the second round main draw consolation where he battled through to the finals, winning three consecutive matches, before losing to Sacred Heart’s Adam Gart on Sunday.
The Bobcats are off until the spring, as this was the final tennis event in the fall.