After over two decades of hard fought matches concluding in losses, the Red was finally able, this past Saturday, to get the monkey, or rather Lions, off its back.
One would have to venture back to 1980 to find a men’s tennis team capable of defeating Columbia Lions.
“They have been, in the past, consistently one of the best teams in the Ivies, and we never seem to be able to beat them, so I would call it a pretty good win,” explained Red tennis coach Barry Schoonmaker.
The Lions were the co-champions of the Ivy League last year with Harvard, although, to date, they have posted an uncharacteristic 4-7 record this spring.
Schoonmaker confidently asserted, “We expected to beat them going into the match, because we have a stronger team and record than they do this season.”
One shouldn’t be misdirected by Schoonmaker’s apparent confidence in the outcome of Saturday’s match; the Red barely did squeeze by its long time foes with a 4-3 victory with some last minute magic of sophomore Scott Paltrowitz.
Down 6-5, match point, in a second set tie breaker, he rallied back to claim the set 7-6 and continued to drill chisel away at Columbia’s fourth seed, Rajeev Emany, closing him out in the final set, 6-1, and clinching the overall match for the Red.
“Paltrowitz was the MVP of the day for sure, with his huge win in No. 3 doubles and his heroics in the No. 4 singles match,” insisted Schoonmaker.
Although Paltrowitz, without question, earned the spotlight against the Lions, he certainly had a little help from his friends. Senior captain Stefan Paulovic teamed up with freshman Sunil Iyer to win No. 1 doubles 8-4, and Paulovic, playing No. 5 singles, beat the Lions’ Marc Grae 6-0, 6-2.
Sophomore Scott Spencer, who had been toughing it out despite being less than 100 percent, joined forces with Paltrowitz in a dramatic (9-8) doubles victory that could easily have gone either way. Sophomore Julian Cheng also claimed a singles victory for the Red netters after his opponent retired at the conclusion of the first set.
The Red moved to 1-0 in the Ivies (13-3 overall), tied for first place, and also became the top ranked team in the state of New York with Saturday’s victory.
Schoonmaker exclaimed, “We are pretty excited about being the No. 1 team in the state.”
Archived article by Adam Zwecker