The men’s tennis team traveled to Flushing Meadows, N.Y. this past weekend for the ECAC Division I Men’s Invitational Championship. With the venue weeks removed from the hustle and bustle of professional U.S. Open action, the Red added excitement to the sparsley populated stands. Although the weekend did not finish as well as the Red planned — the team finished eighth in the sixteen team field with a 1-2 record — its play was tenacious and it was able to leave the USTA National Tennis Center with a positive outlook for the remaining tournaments.
“We have a really young team this year, but they all performed well and played extremely close matches, said head coach Barry Schoonmaker. “It was great to get the guys some big match experience.”
One of Schoonmaker’s young guns, freshman Tongle Yu, was evidently unfazed by the “big match” atmosphere surrounding the tournament. One of the steadiest performers throughout the three day event, Yu won all of his matches including an 0-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over previously undefeated Jared Drucker of Columbia. Yu’s impressive play improved his overall record to 9-2 thus far.
Also contributing strong singles play this weekend was junior Brett McKeon, whose only loss came on the tournament’s final day. McKeon lost to Columbia’s Akshay Rao at first singles after beating his previous opponents from St. John’s and Brown. Additional singles points were added by sophomore Dan Brous and junior Ray Wu in the Red’s 5-2 win over St. John’s on Friday.
After that victory, Cornell faced a talented Brown team seeded second in the tournament. Despite fighting hard every match, the Red fell short in a 5-2 loss. The Red’s disappointing weekend culminated with a consolation match loss to sixth-seeded Columbia, 5-2.
While every member of the team contributed and put forth great effort, one area specifically marked for future improvement was the team’s doubles play.
“We just need to play better doubles and support the points we win in singles play,” Schoonmaker said.
That fact, however, went unnoticed by the first doubles team of sophomore Josh Raff and senior Abedin Sham — the duo did not drop a match all weekend. Playing at least two matches a day hardly seemed to bother the pair and each rose to the challenge every match.
“You really couldn’t tell [this weekend] was their first time playing together. They played like one of the best teams in the northeast.” said Schoonmaker.
The Red is now nearing the end of the fall tournament season and has earned itself a three week rest before sending its best to compete in the ITA Northeast Regionals — an invitational tournament for the region’s top players.
Archived article by Matt Gorman