March 9, 2004

Tennis Fourth at HEBs

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The men’s tennis team journeyed to Corpus Christi, Tex. this past weekend to play in the historic HEB Team Championships. In its first outdoor tournament of the year, the Red went 2-2, and finished fourth in a field of 12. Cornell’s season record now stands at 11-3.

The team opened play with a shutout of Marquette on Friday. The unseeded Red then managed a 4-0 upset of No. 3-seed Ball State. On Saturday, the netters lost to No. 2 Texas Tech in the semifinals, and ended the weekend with a consolation loss to No. 4 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The tournament gave the netters a chance to compete against several nationally-ranked schools. All of Cornell’s tourney opponents — other than Marquette — were ranked slightly higher than the No. 68 Red in the latest collegiate poll. Cornell had entered the nation’s top-75 during its undefeated February.

Senior Zach Gallin, playing at the No. 1 singles spot, went 3-1 over the weekend. He dropped Jakob Paulsen of Texas Tech, the nation’s 70th-ranked player, in straight sets. The rest of the team, however, did not fare as well against the Raiders, and Gallin was Cornell’s only singles winner.

The Red went 1-2 in doubles matches against Tech. The team of Gallin and senior Scott Spencer won at the No. 2 spot, 8-3, while the No. 1 team of freshmen Josh Raff and Nick Brunner lost a close 9-8 match.

Raff and Brunner did, however, earn Cornell’s only victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, winning at No. 1 doubles on Sunday.

“We lost a really tough match against Texas Tech,” Raff said. “Nick and I got off to tough start against Corpus Christi, but we picked it up towards the end.”

The tourney should help the Red prepare for tough Ivy League play in the spring. Not only was the tournament’s competition comparable to the Ancient Eight, but the netters were able to play outdoors for the first time since fall.

Cornell had played all of its winter season on indoor courts. Head coach Barry Schoonmaker noted before the tournament that it often takes a good deal of time for athletes to adjust to playing outdoors again. Playing in Texas gives the Red a head-start in adjusting to the new season.

“It was good to play some tougher teams before the Ivies,” Raff said. “Different teams and a different setting should help.”

The netters will have some time off before they begin Ivy League play against Columbia in Ithaca on April 3.

WOMEN

The women’s tennis team continued its strong play this weekend to stay undefeated for the season. On Saturday, the netters beat Maryland-Baltimore County, 7-0, at Reis Tennis Center. On Sunday, the Red defeated Massachusetts, 5-2. Cornell improved its record to 4-0 with the wins.

“Everyone played at the top of their game,” said senior Laura Tallent. “We had some very strong matches.”

Junior Akane Kokubo, playing at the No. 1 singles spot, had the best performance of the weekend. She dominated her Massachusetts opponent, 6-0, 6-1.

Tallent, at the No. 2 spot, won both of her matches in straight sets.

Cornell took all of the weekend’s doubles matches, although the No. 1 team of Kokubo and junior Erika Takeuchi needed a tough 7-5 tiebreaker to finish off their UMass opponents, 9-8

“We’ve been working a lot more on doubles,” Tallent said, noting the importance of earning the doubles point in close matches.

In other action, junior Melissa Tu, at No. 5 singles, and freshman Nisha Suda, at No. 6, both went undefeated for the weekend.

“Our recent wins have been good confidence-builders for the team,” Tallent noted.

The lady netters will start Ivy play on March 27 at Columbia.


Archived article by Ted Nyman

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