When asked about his team’s performance in the ECAC championships, coach Barry Schoonmaker of the Cornell men’s tennis team said, after slight hesitation, “I’m disappointed. We all wanted to do a little better than we did. We came up a little short.”
Schoonmaker was talking about the Big Red’s losses over the weekend. The team, which defeated West Virginia handily in its first match, 7-0, fell to both Virginia Tech and Penn State in its ensuing matches, 5-2 and 4-3 respectively. The Red, which was seeded fifth in the 16-team tournament, finished sixth.
While he was pleased with the team’s effort, and felt that it had competed well, Schoonmaker identified success under pressure as the main area in which the team needs to improve.
“We need to be better in the clutch,” he said. “We had opportunities to win. Though we lost 4-3 [against Penn State] we could have easily won 5-2.”
Junior Stefan Paulovic, who won all of his matches, said that the problem with the team was neither talent nor ability. He said the team “underperformed” and that the major shortcoming was toughness.
“We’re right there, we have a great team, but when it boils down you have to go and win the match,” he added.
Yet, despite the losses, there were some bright spots. In addition to Paulovic’s performance, Mike Halperin, who was undefeated in Ivy league play last year, won all of his matches in three sets. Schoonmaker called him, “the best player in the Northeast,” and felt that his play in the championships solidified that claim.
In addition, coach Schoonmaker recognized the play of freshman Zach Gallin, who won two of his three matches. He said that Gallin, who was playing in his first major collegiate tournament, came through big and in victory he won easily.
The Red has time to work on its form and learn from its mistakes, because there are no more team matches until the spring.
Archived article by Josh Mendelsohn