For head coach Barry Schoonmaker, the only thing more exciting than hosting one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the country is the chance to go to the biggest of them all. Cornell University will play host to the Omni Hotels ITA Northeast Regional Championship, which begins this morning at the Reis Tennis Center.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Schoonmaker. “We’ve put in for this numerous times, and we’ve never gotten the bid. That’s a great thrill just to have all of these excellent players from all of these Division I teams coming up here.”
Every Division I team is entitled to representation at the event, with a draw of 96 singles players and 56 doubles pairs. Of the 32 seeded singles players, the Red was lucky enough to snatch four seeds: senior Scott Paltrowitz (No. 8), senior Zach Gallin (No. 16), sophomore Brett McKeon (No. 22), and freshman Nicholas Brunner (No. 32). The top three seeds are Andreas Lauland (Virginia Tech), Jamie Cerretani (Brown), and Stephane Rod (Virginia Tech).
“To have four guys be in the top 32 shows that we have a pretty solid team,” said Schoonmaker. “I’m hoping those guys can go deep into this event.”
On the doubles side of the draw, the Red grabbed the third seed with the pairing of Brunner and freshman Josh Raff. The top two seeds are Cerretani and Adil Shamasdin from Brown and Laulund and Rod from Virginia Tech. To have so many seeds is an honor for the men’s tennis team, especially considering the schools that will be competing. Virginia Tech, Harvard, Brown, Binghamton, and Marist were all NCAA qualifiers last year, and they will be making the trip to Ithaca.
“It’s a great thrill just to have all of these excellent players from all of these Division I teams coming up here,” said Schoonmaker. “This is the championship of the northeast. I’m really excited to have them up here, not only to see what sort of place we got, but also to see how beautiful Cornell is.”
This weekend not only marks the first time Cornell is hosting an ITA championship, but it also provides possibly the very best tennis one can see in the area.
“If there is anybody who likes to see top-level tennis, this is a great opportunity to do it,” said Schoonmaker. “Unless we host an NCAA regional championship, this will be the best tennis that will ever be coming to Ithaca.”
The Red is coming off its first ever appearance in the ECAC Invitational semifinals. Although the team was defeated 7-0 by Harvard, it is still riding high after an upset victory over Princeton in the quarterfinals. The Red hopes to capitalize off any momentum remaining from its ECAC run in the hopes of qualifying for the ITA National Collegiate Indoor championship in November, which showcases 32 of the best tennis players in the country.
“This is a huge opportunity for our team,” said co-captain Paltrowitz. “Coming off a big win against Princeton at the ECACs, getting six players into the event, and being able to play at home in the Reis Tennis Center, we are expecting great things.”
Matches will be played all weekend and early next week, culminating in the singles and doubles finals Tuesday morning. Regardless of the Red’s performance, there will be plenty of top-level tennis to watch.
“If there are any tennis fans, this is the weekend to swing by,” said Schoonmaker. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Gallin, Paltrowitz, or McKeon got hot and did really well. They’re going to have to play their best stuff and beat a lot of good competitors to get through.”
Archived article by Dan Carroll