Repeating last year’s loss to Penn State, the men’s tennis team dropped a 6-1 decision to the No. 52 Nittany Lions in its first match of the spring season on Saturday.
The Red conceded crucial doubles points to the Nittany Lions in the afternoon’s first set of matches, giving Penn State an early advantage.
At No. 1 doubles, senior tri-captains Nick Brunner and Josh Raff — the nationally ranked No. 41 doubles team — were broken just once but that allowed Penn State’s Michael James and Adam Slagter to serve out the match, 8-6.
[img_assist|nid=21138|title=Back At You|desc=Freshman Richard Offutt nails a forehand in the Cornell Fall Invitational on Sept. 9. The team lost to Penn State this weekend by the score of 6-1.|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=68]
The No. 3 doubles team of sophomores Kyle Doppelt and Josh Goldstein lost to James Dwyer and Guillaume St. Maurice, 8-4. Senior tri-captain Dan Brous and junior Rory Heggie came out on top against Ryan Berger and Ryan Gormley of Penn State. Brous and Heggie took an early lead and rode the momentum to an 8-5 win.
Of all six singles matches, the only Cornell victory came at No. 6, when freshman Jonathan Fife, who has been having a standout rookie season, beat Dwyer in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Three of Cornell’s five singles losses, however, were lost by a narrow margin. The Red players took the first set in each match.
“The first match is always a little different,” said Doppelt. “But you could tell that in most of the really close matches we didn’t come up with the big points. It’s tough to play a strong opponent early in the year.”
At No. 1 singles, Brunner started strong by winning the first set, 6-4. Yet, James broke Brunner’s serve early in the second set and cruised to a lopsided, 6-1 win. In the third set, each player’s serve held until the 11th game, where James got the break and served out the match for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win.
Raff lost at No. 2 singles to Berger, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6). After losing the first set, Raff jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second, but Berger rallied and captured the crucial second set tie-break by a single mini-break.
Brous took the first set, 6-4, at No. 3 singles against Slagter, but Slagter took control of the match by winning the second and third sets, with a final score of 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Doppelt dropped his singles match at the No. 4 spot to Gormley, 6-3, 6-2. At No. 5 singles, Goldstein came up on the wrong side of a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-8 final score after having battled through three close sets against St-Maurice. Goldstein narrowly escaped the first set tiebreak with a win, but lost by being broken late in the third set.
“It’s a marathon season,” Doppelt said. “It’s not over until the end of April. Obviously the seven Ivy matches later in the season are the most important, but these are still important because they contribute to our national ranking. These matches still carry a lot of weight.”
In addition to allowing the Red to improve its national ranking, the early non-league matches give players the opportunity to assess their games and make adjustments accordingly.
“As a whole, we probably need to focus on more match play in practice, but really we each have our own things to focus on,” Doppelt said. “Everyone’s game needs work in specific areas.”