Even though separation Saturday and the N.Y. Giants overtime thriller dominated the weekend’s sports action, the men’s tennis team was also rumbling, bumbling and stumbling in a competitive opening-season tournament.
Out of two doubles and four singles brackets, Cornell was represented in five of the finals matches in the Cornell Fall Tennis Invitational held at the Reis Tennis Center. Unfortunately, the Red could only produce one title.
Head coach Barry Schoonmaker believed it was an all-around solid effort from his team. However, he was definitely disappointed yesterday when his players produced only one trophy out of a potential of five.
“Obviously when you get to the finals, you’re hoping to have better performances,” Schoonmaker said. “We clearly weren’t good enough. Nevertheless, it was a solid opening weekend for the team.”
Sophomore Marc Asch produced the sole title in singles D bracket against fellow teammate Ashish Bhandari, a freshman. Asch looked helpless in the first set, but then came roaring back in the final two sets, getting the necessary breaks of serve and winning 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was a battle and we both played well,” Asch said. “Bhandari is a confusing player because he’s like Gumby. He’s just very loose and very bendy. I tried insulting him and it didn’t work. He just came back and played better.”
Still, Asch found a way to put the first set behind him and, as a result, gave Cornell its first title of the season. Bhandari agreed with Asch on the fact that it was a tough match and hopes to do better than second place in the future.
Sophomore Joshua Goldstein also produced a impressive opening weekend showing as he placed second in the singles A-bracket. His first two matches were solid, three-set victories and in his semifinal match, he got the necessary breaks of serve to win 6-4, 6-4. Then, yesterday morning, he ran into Binghamton’s Faisal Mohamed, a player who had been breaking the sound barrier all week with both his killer first serve and his loud Lleyton Hewitt attitude.
“I ran up against a guy who was on a hot streak,” Goldstein said. “He was playing very well. I beat him in this tournament last year, so it was frustrating not to be able to win today.”
Even though Goldstein lost in straight sets against Mohamed, he was still happy about the way he played and about the direction the team is going in this fall season.
“I think it’s important this first tournament back to really go out there and try to get a rhythm, try to get some match experience your belt,” Goldstein said. “I had some tough matches and that was definitely good for me. Everybody on this team needs to be out there playing tough matches and learning from them.”
One player who was certainly experiencing and learning from tough matches was junior Tongle Yu. Yu made it to the finals in both the singles C bracket and the doubles B bracket. Yu’s consistency gave his opponents trouble as he battled deep into all of his matches.
“I thought my performance in the C flight was fairly good,” Yu said. “Overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance and I thought this was a good experience because it just gives me an idea of what I need to work on for the Ivy League season.”
In the doubles B bracket, Yu and fellow junior Rory Heggie made it deep into the tournament, but like their teammates, lost in the finals.
Freshman Jonathan Fife was another Cornell player going deep into his bracket and coming up short in the final. Fife’s shining moment of the weekend came during his second match, when he aced his opponent three times in the match’s final game.
“That was the best game I’ve served during the match,” Fife said. “I don’t serve much better than that ever.”