September 30, 2005

Men's Tennis Set to Play in ECAC Championships

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The Cornell men’s tennis team will compete this weekend in what is arguably its most difficult challenge of the fall season – the 2005 ECAC fall championships. Head coach Barry Schoonmaker will take eight of his top players – led by the doubles team of junior Josh Raff and classmate Nick Brunner – down to the USTA National Tennis Center in Forrest Hills, N.Y., to face off against 16 of the top Division I teams in the northeast.

Other players making the trip include senior captains Ray Wu and Brett McKeon, juniors Dan Brous and Charn Bak, sophomore Tongle Yu and freshman Peter Kung.

If last week’s performance was any indication of the overall talent that this team possesses, however, the Red should have no problem proving themselves worthy competitors against such a tough and challenging field.

In two tournaments last weekend, the Cornell Fall Invitational and the Farnsworth/Princeton Invitational, the Red compiled two doubles titles as well as many other top finishes.

Raff and Brunner showed why they are widely regarded as one of the best doubles teams in the northeast by taking the Princeton Invitational doubles crown in convincing fashion.

While that duo was sweeping the courts in New Jersey, the Red was also defending its home turf. Back at Cornell, Kung and freshman Bryant Yung took the Flight “B” doubles championship. Furthermore, the rest of the squad compiled an overall record of 18-1 on the first day of the tournaments.

Although the seventh-seeded Red will ultimately be gunning for two-time defending champion Harvard, Schoonmaker has made it clear that the team will have to take the tournament one match at a time if it is going to be successful.

This game plan will be put to the test in the first round, when Cornell will face off against Manhattan.

“I am really only concerned with our first round match-up at this point. We have never played Manhattan so I am very excited to see how it turns out,” Schoonmaker said.

Manhattan is a team that, much like the Red, features an overwhelming veteran presence, bringing a large majority of upperclassmen and only one freshman to the tournament.

As a result, Schoonmaker is convinced that it will be a very tough contest, one in which he looks forward to seeing just how gritty his team really is.

If the Red does make it past the first round, the road to a championship will not get any easier. Other powerhouses such as Penn State and Rutgers – not to mention traditional Ivy League rivals such as Harvard and Brown – will await them in the later rounds of the tournament.

In order to make it deep into the tournament, the team will need to rely on the consistent play of their veterans, especially Raff and Brunner, who were second team All-Ivy selections a year ago.

“I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hoping they were going to win. If we are to be successful, we need Nick and Josh to lead the way,” Scoonmaker said.

Schoonmaker feels that given a strong showing from Brunner and Raff and the other six members of the team, there is a good chance that the Red will continue their trend of strong finishes in fall tournaments this weekend.

Archived article by Lance Williams
Sun Contributor