Sundays are typically stressful — trying to recover from the weekend and rally to get homework done can be enough to keep anyone on edge. For the men’s tennis team, however, last Sunday was particularly nerve-racking. After completing its Ivy League schedule with a 5-2 win over Penn, the Red could be found at the Reis Tennis Center huddled around a computer, eagerly awaiting an update from the Columbia athletic blog. Eventually the news that everyone had been expecting was announced, Columbia had defeated Princeton, 5-2, and clinched the top spot in the Ivy League for the second consecutive year. Cornell, meanwhile, would have to settle for a second place finish once again.
The disappointment didn’t last long, though, as the men’s team rejoiced at the fact that it had just completed a great season in which it matched its school best record in the Ivy League and earned a final ranking in the ITA Top-75.
“When the news came in [about Columbia winning] we were naturally all upset, but the fact that we had such a great year still overshadows that,” said junior Andy Gauthier. “This again is the best record that we’ve had in the Ivy League so there’s no reason to be disappointed.”
A 5-2 record and second place finish in league play was not a certainty for Cornell just two weeks ago, when the Red’s Ivy record fell to 2-2 after a loss at Yale. Three straight victories to finish the season, though, including two in the final weekend of play, ensured Cornell’s spot in the rankings.
The Red (18-7, 5-2 Ivy) was on the road to start the weekend, defeating Princeton (8-13, 4-3), 5-2, in Princeton, N.J. on Friday. After the victory, Cornell returned home to face Penn (11-10, 1-6) in the season finale on Sunday.
The Red opened the match against Princeton with a dominating doubles performance, winning all three matches to give the team a point heading into singles play. Gauthier and junior captain Jeremy Feldman led the way in No. 1 doubles, followed by junior Jon Jaklitsch and senior Mirza Klis at No. 2 and junior Evan Bernstein and senior captain Jon Fife at No. 3.
“This weekend was probably our best doubles performance as a team that I've seen,” Gauthier said. “There haven’t been any days that I can think of where every doubles pair came to play and that happened both on Friday and Sunday.”
Following doubles play, Cornell won four of six singles matches to secure the victory. Jaklitsch led the way for the Red in the No. 1 singles spot, defeating Matija Pecotic in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6. Guathier had slightly more trouble in his singles match, coming from one set down to beat Charlie Brosens, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. The No. 3 singles spot also went to three sets, with Feldman coming out on the losing end against Matt Spindler, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Bernstein and Klis earned the other two singles victories for the Red in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively.
After wrapping up its road schedule against the Tigers, Cornell returned home to play one last match at the Reis Tennis Center against Penn. Just as it had done on Friday, the Red opened the match against the Quakers with a sweep of all three doubles matches.
Singles play was much of the same, as well, as Cornell won four of its six matches. Gauthier opened at No. 1 singles and defeated Eugen Brazdil in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Jaklitsch defeated Phil Law by the same score in No. 2 singles, followed by victories from Feldman and Fife at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Penn earned its only points in the final two singles matches.
The victory for Cornell may not have been enough to clinch a share of the Ivy League title, but it did allow the team to send its seniors off on a winning note.
“It was great to give the seniors two wins on the weekend to finish their careers,” Gauthier said. “It was great to end on a good note, but the fact that we didn’t end up winning the Ivy League will definitely make us work that much harder next year.”
The Red will have a good chance at winning it next year, as the team will return five starters in addition to a talented incoming freshman class.
Another Cornell team with a bright future is the women’s tennis team, which ended its season much the way the men did on Sunday by beating Penn in Philadelphia, Pa., 6-1. Although it was on the road, the victory was a great way to pay homage to the team’s two seniors, Susan Sullivan and Natalia Sanchez.
“It was great to finish out the season on a victory,” Sullivan said. “Everyone played well and fought hard and it felt good to come back to Ithaca having wrapped up the season with the win.”
Sanchez and freshman Kristin Lim earned the victory in No. 1 doubles and Sullivan and junior Ruxandra Dumitrescu got the win in the No. 3 spot to give Cornell (12-10, 2-5 Ivy) the doubles point against the Quakers (4-15, 0-7).
In singles action, freshman Christine Ordway led the way in the No. 1 match, defeating Alexa Ely, 6-4, 7-6. At No. 2, Lim prevailed over Emily Wolf in three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 10-4. Sullivan, freshman Sarah O’Neil and Dumitrescu earned the Red’s other three points in No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles, respectively.
“Sunday's win was great for our younger players. All three freshman in the lineup won their singles matches which will definitely boost everyone’s confidence in each other and in themselves,” Sullivan said. “Winning at these top spots will definitely give the girls more confidence in the fall.”
Prior to the season ending victory against the Quakers, the Red played eventual league champion Princeton (20-5, 7-0) at the Reis Tennis Center on Friday afternoon. The Tigers won eight of nine matches against the Red en route to a 6-1 victory, with Sullivan picking up the lone Cornell point in No. 3 singles.
“As much as I love the intensity and competitiveness of the sport, I think I’ll miss the comradery of the team the most,” Sullivan said, when asked to reflect on her time with the Red. “I loved hanging out with all the girls, on and off the court, and I will definitely miss being part of such a great group.”