September 15, 2006

M. Tennis Opens Season Hosting Fall Invitational

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While the U.S. Open ended last weekend in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the men’s tennis team will begin it season today as Cornell hosts its annual Fall Invitational. The Red will welcome a host of teams including Hofstra, Amherst, Binghamton, and Middlebury.

“You want to get the ball rolling,” said senior co-captain Josh Raff. “Cornell always does well in the season opener.”
[img_assist|nid=18326|title=On target|desc=Senior tri-captain Nick Brunner cracks a forehand last season. (Ariel Waitz / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=right|width=100|height=84]
Last year, the Red kicked off the year by splitting the squad into two, and playing the Princeton Invitational and Cornell Invitational on the same weekend. The duo of current senior tri-captains Josh Raff and Nick Brunner won the A flight of the 2005 Princeton Invitational Doubles Championship.

While most of the upperclassmen headed off to play in Princeton, Cornell showed off its Class of 2009 at its own tournament. That year’s core of recruits, now sophomores, went a remarkable 8-1 in their opening round of play for Cornell and kept it going on the second day with the team of sophomores Peter Kung and Bryant Yung winning the B doubles bracket of the 2005 Cornell Invitational.

The team is led this season by senior tri-captains Raff, Brunner, and Dan Brous. Brunner and Raff will sit out this weekend’s tournament to allow more of their teammates to compete. Brous will play doubles only at the Invitational.

“We had a really good season last year,” Brunner said. “And we believe that we can develop even more.”

Brunner and Raff were named to an All-Ivy team for the second straight year, last season as first-team members and the previous season as second team members. They amassed a 23-5 record and were 6-1 against their Ivy League opponents in 2004-05 season. Raff and Brunner were also given All-Ivy honorable mention for their singles play last year.

“This season our goal is to win the Ivy League championship,” Raff said. “Ivy League competition will be tough but there is no doubt that we are good enough to be the best team. We all want to win, and we do what it takes to make it happen.”

The Red looks strong with its new and returning players. Sophomore Kyle Doppelt was the team’s most improved player last season and hopes to continue his improvement this year.

Additionally, the Invitational will give the Red a sense of what roles its freshmen, Ashish Bhandari, Jonathon Fife, and Richard Offutt may come fill on the team, as the trio will all play their opening matches of their Cornell careers.

“Our biggest goal for the upcoming tournament is to build confidence for the rest of the season,” Raff said.

The netters are led by head coach Barry Schoonmaker, who took over in 1995 and has continued to produce competitive teams in the Ancient Eight ever since. Last season, he led the team to a 11-10 (2-5 Ivy) record.

“He is the kind of coach you enjoy playing for,” Raff said, “He doesn’t put too much pressure on you.”

Raff’s personal goals for his final season are to make first team All-Ivy for singles and to make the NCAA tournament. Raff had his best season last year and believes that he can continue to improve.