October 1, 2004

Men's Tennis Plays Third Tourney

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The U.S. Open may well be over, but the USTA NationalTennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. will be bustling with activity this weekend. The Cornell men’s tennis team will be competing in the ECAC Division I Men’s Invitational Tennis Championship, the third tournament of its fall season.

After an excellent start at the first two tournaments of the season, the team is optimistic about the outcome of this weekend.

“We are expecting big things,” said sophomore Josh Raff.

The Red will be playing St. John’s in the first round at 11:30 a.m today. St. John’s is one of only two non-Ivy schools to be ranked in the top ten for this weekend’s tournament.

Even though St. John’s has extremely stong players in the top two spots, Cornell expects to take a first round win.

“We have more depth and more experience,” said senior Abidin Sham. “We will come out on top.”

The Red has practiced a lot this week to prepare for a number of challenging matches at the National Tennis Center.

“The team has been working really hard, so hopefully we can put it on the court and win,” said sophomore Dan Brous.

Cornell is ranked seventh among the sixteen competing teams this weekend with a combined singles record of 42-17 and a doubles record of 17-10 so far this season. The team has already won an impressive three flight championships in its two opening tournaments. The players hope to continue their progress this weekend in Flushing Meadows.

If the players win the first round against St. John’s, they will play Brown. Brown is expected to be one of the toughest teams competing in the tournament, but the team anticipates a close match. “If we can get through Brown, we can get through any team,” Sham said.

With only one retruning senior this year, the team will be led by mostly underclassmen. In spite of this, Sham and his teammates know talent is not an issue. After this fall semester, there will be no seniors to lead the team, but the Red is not intimidated by this factor. Cornell’s main strengths are its ability to hit the ball with a remarkable amount of pace in addition to the team’s overall depth. With these two strengths, the team expects to have a great season even with a younger group of players.

The squad’s overall goal in Flushing Meadows is to get through the first round and see what happens from there. The Red is focused on playing well in the first matches — without looking past its first round opponent.

“We are not going to take any opponent lightly, but we will respect everyone and fear no one,” Raff said.

Another tough team the Red might face is Harvard. The Crimson won the ECAC Championship last year, defeating Penn State 4-0 in the finals. However, the Red is not thinking about Harvard just yet — it still has to take care of this weekend’s business. “Hopefully we can just play our best,” Brous said.

Archived article by Kristen Schneider
Sun Contributor