While Cornell students were away soaking up the sun, the men’s tennis team stayed in Ithaca over spring break to grind out the beginning of their Ivy League Season. The men faced Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth at home, clinching a 4-1 victory over Harvard, but suffering losses to Columbia and Dartmouth, 4-1 and 4-2 respectively.
The first match at home against Columbia on March 26 was closer than the score might suggest. According to head coach Silviu Tanasiou, this match came down to crucial shifts in momentum and coming through in “key scenarios.”
“They were just a little more resilient than we were,” Tanasiou said. “We were a little more tentative in key scenarios. We had set points in two matches. The momentum was clearly going in our favor. There’s a difference when you gain that momentum, and they start feeling the pressure and you don’t.”
The Red (8-10, 1-2 Ivy) did not let the loss to Columbia (13-5, 3-0) weigh them down as they prepared for their next match at home against Harvard (12-10, 0-2) this past Satuday. The Red clinched a decisive 4-1 victory over the Crimson.
“We played very solidly,” Tanasiou said. “Much much better, all across the board. We put the pressure on early with them. Very solid performances in singles. Even with the match decided at 4-1, I still felt like [junior Bernardo Casares Rosa] could have had a chance to win his match.”
In preperation for the match against Harvard, Tanasiou made the strategic switch of putting junior Colin Sinclair and freshman David Volfson at the number one spot in doubles.
“We felt like Colin and Volfson were playing very good,” Tanasiou said. “We wanted to give them a chance to compete at number one. They also played really well against Dartmouth the next day and won in a very convincing fashion.”
These are not the only impressive performances Sinclair has had. A secret weapon for the men’s team, the junior did not drop a single match over break in both the No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles positions.
“Colin is by far one of the most competitive guys we have on our team,” Tanasiou said. “I don’t know too many people who hate losing as much as he does. He puts himself in the position to win. He’s peaking right now at the right moment.”
The final match of their spring break trio was a hard-fought 4-2 loss against Dartmouth (13-8, 1-1). Tanasiou noted how the match was intense throughout and the crowd was energized.
“It was great,” Tanasiou said. “Very good crowd — I think 150 plus people or so came out to support.”
The two matches clinched by the Red came from Sinclair and Volfson at number one doubles and from a notable performance by Volfson at number one singles, who defeated the No. 81 nationally ranked player.
Despite the optimistic showing to begin the season, Coach Tanasiou stressed that it is way too early to be thinking about qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
“I don’t know for sure,” Tanasiou said. “I don’t pay attention to the rankings until the very last match. I think I’m stating the obvious, but I think its increased our chances. I think we’re near the cut-off. We’ll see — four very good matches left, four good opportunities to climb in the rankings.”
The men hit the road this weekend for Providence for a battle with Brown on Saturday. It will then continue play against Yale in New Haven the next day.