March 29, 2002

Red-Hot Men to Host Lions at Reis Tennis Center

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Tomorrow at the Reis Tennis Center at 2:00 p.m., the men’s tennis team will begin the most anticipated part of its season, with its Ivy League opener against Columbia. Last year, the Red also played Columbia in its first Ivy League match, falling 5-2. Cornell never fully recovered from the loss, finishing the season fifth in the Ivy League. This year, the squad hopes to get off to a better start.

Certainly in terms of starts, the Red could not ask for a much better one than it has had to this point in the season. The team currently stands at 13-3. One of those three losses happened early in the season against a Virginia Commonwealth squad that reached the national championship match two years ago. The other two of the Red’s losses both occurred last week in a swing through Florida.

While Cornell only managed one victory in its three matches down south, it did avenge one of its losses from last year, beating a strong Barry team 4-3, and adapting to the change in conditions admirably, giving Stetson and Florida Atlantic all they could handle before succumbing.

Despite the level of tennis the Red has already experienced this year, the pressure and intensity will clearly be of a higher caliber when it steps onto the court on Saturday.

Cornell will have its hands full against Columbia, as the Lions tied for the Ivy League title last year. Since then, they have lost three of their top six players to graduation and opened this season at a 4-6 clip, a record that is somewhat misleading, due to unusually tough competition; the Lions’ last loss for example, was against No. 21 Alabama.

The Red, for its part, also lost three important players last year to graduation, including top player Mike Halperin ’01. Thus far, however, the team has been able to ride the leadership of senior captain Stefan Paulovic and solid performances from a young squad that includes six sophomores and two freshmen, to an excellent start.

Beginning Saturday, however, the Ivy League campaign, the most important test of the season, begins.

Archived article by Andrew Bernie