When men’s tennis head coach Barry Schoonmaker remarked after the conclusion of the Red’s recent Texas roadtrip that, “we have a chance against anyone in the Ivy League,” it appeared to be only optimistic coach-speak. Evidently, Schoonmaker was not joking – last weekend, the Red proceeded to beat Harvard, the defending Ivy League champions, for the first time in 46 years.
“We did play a lot of points and match-type situations during the week in preparation for the Harvard match,” Schoonmaker said. “We didn’t play well at all on the big points against Columbia, so I wanted to emphasize that against Harvard, and we really ended up winning all the big points. We won a lot of close matches.”
Schoonmaker also cited individual matchups as a key factor in the upset.
“We had good matchups at the No. 1, 2 and 3 spots,” he said. “[Senior co-captain] Brett mckeon played a serve-and-volleyer at No. 1 singles, and he really likes to play against that type of style.”
An instrumental player in the historic upset was mckeon, a four-year starter for the Red, who won both his singles and doubles matches. In particular, his early 8-6 doubles win at No. 3 over Harvard’s tandem of Shantanu Dhaka and Dan Nguyen set the tone for the rest of the match. Although the Red still lost the doubles point by dropping the two other doubles matches, the win led to an astonishing string of five consecutive singles victories at the top-5 spots, including a straight set win at No. 1 for mckeon.
Still, mckeon wasn’t too surprised by the results.
“We always expect to win, no matter who we play,” he said. “It’s not that big of a deal, even though we haven’t beaten them in a long time.”
mckeon also expressed confidence for the rest of the Ivy schedule.
“I really think we should build on this and steamroll the rest of the competition this year,” he said.
mckeon has been a central player for the Red for four years. He achieved a great deal of success at the national junior level, honing his game in Boca Raton within the North American tennis mecca of southern Florida. On his way to achieving a Junior ranking of No. 35 nationally, he also happened to live in the same city as another promising young prospect – Andy Roddick, two years his senior. McKeon attended Boca Raton High School, while Roddick graduated from Boca Preparatory Academy.
“I know he lived there, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to play him,” mckeon said.
Unlike Roddick, McKeon chose to play tennis and go to college, earning a degree biology and society in the process.
“When I came to Cornell, I was thinking beyond tennis,” mckeon said. “I wanted to make sure I had good career options.”
For now, the senior is enjoying his final semester at Cornell, and while playing the lead part in snapping a 46-match losing streak against a historic rival was sweet, McKeon is focused on the rest of his Ivy season.
Archived article by Danial Asmat
Sun Staff Writer