The men’s tennis team put together an impressive showing this weekend with a third place finish at the Division I ECAC invitational tournament at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. The Red reached the semifinals for the first time in its history before being ousted by Harvard on Sunday. The Crimson went on to defeat Penn State in the finals and win the tournament.
“We were really excited about making it to the semifinal and we are optimistic about the prospects for the spring,” said senior Scott Spencer.
In the opening round on Friday morning, the fifth seeded Red went up against No. 12 seeded Rutgers. The Red easily dispatched the Scarlet Knights 7-0 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they would meet Ivy League rival Princeton. The Tigers defeated No. 13 seeded Navy 7-0 in the opening round. The Red had no difficulty defeating the Tigers in the quarterfinal match, doing so in dominating fashion by a score of 7-0. The Red were well overdue for a victory over Princeton, as the team has not done so since 1950.
“It was great. We accomplished two real milestones,” said head coach Barry Schoonmaker. “We finally beat Princeton, which is a long time coming. And we made it to the semifinals, which we have never done before.”
The win over Princeton also moved the Red to a semifinal match with another Ivy League foe, Harvard. But, the Red were eventually ousted from the tournament at the hands of the Crimson with a 7-0 defeat on Sunday. Harvard was the tournament’s top seeded team and they lived up to their title, dominating the entire field of competition.
“Harvard was really tough,” said Spencer. “At every position they seemed to be a little bit better than us. Even though the scores don’t indicate it, we were really close in all of the matches and we kept it very competitive. They seemed to just tough it out in the end.”
Despite the eventual outcome, the Red put forth a valiant effort. At the No. 4 singles, Cornell’s freshman Nicholas Brunner forced Harvard’s Cliff Nguyen to a dramatic third set tiebreaker. At the No. 2 doubles, the Red inflicted the Crimson’s only tournament loss as Spencer and fellow teammate Zach Gallin defeated Mark Riddell and Cliff Nguyen 8-4.
“I was really impressed [of Gallin and Spencer],” said Schoonmaker. “They haven’t played together all fall because of Scott’s ankle injury and they went undefeated in the tournament.”
As a team, the Red will look to further improve upon its performance at the ITA Regional Championships in Ithaca from October 17-21.
“This tournament [ECAC invitational] tells us a lot,” said Schoonmaker. “It shows us how much harder we have to keep working if we want to challenge for the title. We have been fourth place in the league for the past few years and hopefully we will be able to move up this year.”
Archived article by Bryan Pepper