After a successful first season, sophomore Sam Fleck has returned from his hometown over the pond ready to begin his second season with the Red. The Englishman spoke about his reflections from last year, hopes for this season, and what it’s like living in Collegetown with eight other tennis players.
Last year, Fleck was named No. 12 in the Northeast by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. He also earned an All-Ivy Second Team spot — the first time a Cornell freshman has earned an All-Ivy First or Second Team position since the league separated itself from the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association in 1999.
Junior captain (and one of Fleck’s roommates) Evan McElwain noted that Sam’s impressive performance freshman year certainly solidified his role as a leader on the team.
“It was really big that he was able to get so many wins and actually be competitive that high up in the lineup,” McElwain said. “We had a lot of freshmen playing last year and he played the highest out of all of them. I think the fact that he was able to do so well at that position, kind of automatically, people looked up to him. And that’s something that just repeats into this year … they’re always just going to instinctively rely on him, you know, for results, but he’s also going to be a leader in practice and in matches as well.”
“That was a big achievement for me,” Fleck said, referring to his ITA ranking and overall accomplishments last season. “I’m glad that I was noticed and it meant a lot to me.”
Fleck added that he would have “preferred it if the team had done slightly better … in the Ivy Leagues,” but emphasized that his goals for this year are centered upon reclaiming the Ivy League title (which Cornell won in 2011). His drive—McElwain mentions that off the court, Sam “plays a lot of FIFA and gets really competitive at video games, like really, really pissed off” — will certainly help the team achieve that objective.
“It’s a realistic goal. It’s tough because the Ivies are all getting stronger … but that’s what we’re aiming to do,” said Fleck. He also spoke about the team’s fitness as a central component to the success the Red is seeking this year.
“We’ve been doing lots of running and strength work,” he said. “We’ve been training well [and] we’ve been training hard, playing lots of matches against each other.”
The Red has two new recruits this season, one of whom is a junior transfer student who has more in common with Fleck than just prowess on the tennis court.
“The junior [Alexander Wilton] is actually English as well, so it’s great to finally have another Englishmen on the team that I can relate to—that’s been good fun,” Fleck said.
He added that the whole team has really bonded, which makes sense as nine members of the squad share a home in Collegetown.
“I feel like we’re more of a team this year because we spend so much time with each other,” he said. “And even though only about half the team lives in the house, we’re just as close to the other guys who don’t live there.”
Fleck noted that although there are some funny memories his housemates and he have had this semester—“there’s a couple of really crazy stories from o-week, but I don’t really want to share them with the paper.”
“We’re all very sporty, so we talk about sports a lot, and girls, and just whatever normal people talk about. We don’t talk about tennis as much, [but] at the moment we do because the U.S. Open’s on.”
And when asked who he thinks will win the tournament at Flushing Meadows this year, Sam stood by his countryman without hesitation, “Oh, Andy Murray, all the way.”