April 18, 2012

TENNIS | Red Picks Up Speed as Season Nears End

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Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams came away from the weekend with a win and a loss apiece.

On Saturday at Reis Tennis Center, the Red (9-8, 1-4 Ivy League) defeated No. 48 Brown, 4-3.

“On Saturday we played Brown and had a very exciting win over the 48th ranked team in country,” said head coach Mike Stevens. “It was a very good [win], it showed the women on the team that their hard work paid off. They were playing well, it was a good win for the team.”

Saturday’s victory over Brown (16-6, 2-2) was the Red’s first in Ivy League play this spring.

“We knew they were a really strong team but we didn’t want to lose,” said freshman Sara Perelman. “We came out super strong with doubles. We have been wprking super hard … and focusing a lot on double and keeping momentum going.”

However the next day, when Cornell hosted No. 28 Yale (16-3, 4-0), the team did not fair as well, falling to the Bulldogs without raking up a single point.

“Yale is a very good team,” Stevens said. “They have been ranked in the top-20 and now they are 28 in country, so they are very good and they showed it. They are in great shape, they work hard and they acted very professional on the court. Some of the matches were pretty good for us and some of the matches we just weren’t as good as the Yale players. It was good for our team to see that’s how they need to play and what they need to work towards as far as getting better. I certainly think that next year we can be at that level and that’s certainly their goal.”

Despite the loss on Sunday, the Red is staying positive and focused on the future, according to Perelman.

“Yale is really good, so we just tried to do the best we can so use that match to prepare for net weekend,” she said. “We have tow really beatable teams and if we win that would be a really good end to the season.”

Cornell plays its last two games of the season this weekend, traveling to Penn for a match Friday, and returning home to finish up at home on Sunday against Princeton.

“We know our matches will be great, as far as exciting and close we are certainly looking forward to the challenge,” Stevens said. “We just want to make sure we can end the season on a good note. Our goal is to win them both — we know we can beat them, but it’s going to be tough.”

The men also saw some improvement this weekend on the road, falling to No. 64 Brown (16-5, 2-2) on Saturday and then rallying to beat Yale (13-8, 2-2) on Sunday.

On Friday, the Red (8-15, 1-4) came close to a victory, but ultimately fell, 4-3 to Brown.

“I was very pleased with how they fought; even though we lost against Brown I thought they put a great effort out there,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “We had a few chances and we weren’t able to capitalize on them as we had in the past. I told the guys it’s just a matter of time. We are putting the work in, we are doing the right thing and it’s just a matter of time until we turn the corner.”

And turn the corner they did, as on Saturday, the Red beat Yale, 4-3. The victory marked Cornell’s first Ivy win of the season.

“In the Yale match we came out and played great tennis in all six spots,” Tanasoiu said.

“We came away with a great win that I know that a lot of people were looking forward to getting. Overall it was a very productive weekend. The guys proved to themselves that if we are going to stick to the plan, we are going to come on top eventually.”

However, both the matches were close, according to freshman Quoc-Daniel Nguyen.

“Both matches could have gone either way — it was pretty tight,” he said. “We could have beaten Brown but Yale could have also beaten us.”

One area where Tanasoiu said he sees a definite need for improvement is in the Red’s doubles play, as the team did not come away with one doubles point this weekend.

“We still have a hole in our doubles play, and I think that’s obvious by now,” he said. “We are putting ourselves in a very challenging situation after the doubles point, but the guys have been able to bounce back in spite of that and they fought extremely hard.”

Despite this setback, the team is focusing on its other strengths, according to Nguyen.

“I think we have definitely changed our mindset to focusing on trying to break down our opponents more mentally and physically,” he said. “I feel like we have worked a lot harder than the other teams, we are fitter than them and mentally tougher than them.”

The Red will play its final two matches of the season this weekend, hosting Penn at Reis Tennis Center on Friday and then traveling to Princeton, N.J., on Sunday to face the Tigers.

“Coming into those matches I think that we have a lot more confidence after our Yale match on Sunday,” Nguyen said. “I think things are coming together really well … [It is the] last two matches of the season and hopefully we can end on a good note by wining both of those matches.”

Although the season is drawing to a close, this is still just the beginning for Tanasoiu, as he just took control of the Red squad a few months ago.

“This weekend, in my opinion, is a test to what happened in the previous one,” he said. “I would like to see [if we are] consistent enough to maintain the same level of play, the mentality … I want to see if we can sustain that in the next one and if that’s the case, we will have a very good chance to win both of those matches.”

Original Author: Dani Abada

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