March 18, 2004

Club Tennis Finishes No. 10

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Like many college students across the country, the men and women of Cornell’s club tennis team headed to Florida this past weekend. But unlike those on spring break, the seven members of the team had some serious athletic work to do — they competed in the annual Team Tennis National Campus Championships in Daytona Beach, finishing tenth in a 40-team field.

“The tournament was definitely a success,” said senior Brett Wehrum.

The tournament’s format differed from regular intercollegiate standards. For each round, teams competed in five matches – a men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and then a final mixed doubles match. Instead of the usual match-based format, the tournament’s scoring was game-based and cumulative. Whichever team won the most individual games won the overall match.

The tournament’s 40 teams were divided into eight round-robin divisions.

Teams were then seeded into new brackets based on their first-round performances.

Cornell started its round-robin play with wins over the College of New Jersey and James Madison.

“We won both pretty easily,” Wehrum said.

Even though Cornell defeated Colorado in a close 24-21 win, they next faced the University of Florida, a traditionally strong club team. The Gators defeated Cornell 29-19 to win the division.

“Florida was a tough draw,” said Wehrum. “They had a very good team.”

With its second place finish, Cornell headed to the “Silver Division,” where it met other divisional runner-ups.

Cornell started its new bracket with a close win over Central Florida.

“We were down three games going into the mixed doubles,” said Wehrum. “We had to win by a score of 6-3 in the final match to force a tiebreaker. We won by that exact score, and then won the tiebreaker.”

Cornell advanced into the division’s semifinals against Michigan, winning another close match, 24-22.

The final match came against Florida International. The Panthers employed a legal, although hardly sportsmanlike strategy to defeat Cornell.

“They had a former Division I collegiate player who was probably the best in the tournament,” Wehrum said. “He played in all the men’s matches, and the mixed doubles match.”

Nevertheless, Cornell still managed to win several games, and went into the final mixed doubles match with a small lead.

But Florida International began the final match with a strong service game and didn’t look back. Its mixed doubles team won just enough points to defeat Cornell, 23-22.

“It was as close as it gets,” Wehrum said.

In a tournament dominated by teams from the South and especially from Florida, Cornell’s strong play managed to impress some of the locals.

“We did the best of any Northeast team, besides Harvard,” Wehrum said.

The Cornell team will continue its season with regional match-ups in April.

Archived article by Ted Nyman