October 3, 2006

Singles Play Lifts M. Tennis at ECACs

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Even though the Shea Stadium ticket office was on the way, the men’s tennis team resisted the urge to buy Mets postseason tickets and instead came out firing at the ECAC Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. this past weekend.

Across the board the team put forth noble efforts against Ivy League foes Dartmouth, Brown and Yale in its first dual matches of the fall. With a victory against Dartmouth, and losses to Brown and Yale, the men’s team will now regroup for its trip to Tulsa this Thursday.

Head coach Barry Schoonmaker was pleased with his team’s effort, especially since some of his players were question marks going into the tourney.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Schoonmaker said. “We were a little bit banged up going in. We had some guys with injuries, or some guys who hadn’t played because of injuries. The guys played really hard and we only came up a few points short in both of the losses. Obviously, those are the biggest points, and we need to be better in the spring when we’re going to have to beat these teams.”
[img_assist|nid=18728|title=Yung guns|desc=Sophomore Bryant Yung cracks a forehand during a match at the Cornell Fall Invitational held at Reis Tennis Center three weekends ago. (Robert Bonow / Sun Photo Editor)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=63]
In the first round, eighth-seeded Cornell defeated ninth-seeded Dartmouth, 6-1. All six singles players were victorious while in doubles, the Red lost two-of-three and gave the point to the Green. However, Schoonamker felt Dartmouth was more than a worthy opponent, as a good majority of the matches were decided by tiebreakers or late breaks of serve.

“6-1 might look like we dominated them, but a lot of those sets were close,” Schoonmaker said. “They’re pretty darn good. What I was most pleased with the Dartmouth match was that even though we lost the doubles point, the guys didn’t carry any of it with them. They didn’t let the Dartmouth guys come out on fire. We let them know from the beginning of the singles matches that just because they had won the doubles point, they still had a long way tog go to win the match.”

In the quarters against No. 1 Brown, Cornell came up with two points courtesy of senior tri-captain Josh Raff and freshman Jon Fife in their singles matches. The rest of the team was less successful, as the Red ended up falling to the Bears, 5-2. Cornell had chances to come away with at least four points in this dual match, but Brown was able to save match points in No. 1 doubles and was able to grind it out in some long three-set singles matches.

“The Brown match was a match that I really felt we let slip away,” Schoonmaker said. “At No. 1 doubles, we had a couple of match points that we didn’t come away with. In singles, senior Nick Brunner and junior Rory Heggie were certainly capable of winning their matches. We lost both of those matches in long, long three-set matches. If we had won a few more of the big points, we could have won those matches. Like the way we came up with the big points against Dartmouth, Brown came up with those big points against us.”

Against fourth-ranked Yale, the Red fell short, 4-3, in what Raff would later call “a bloodbath.” The dual-match took over five hours long with all but one singles match going to three sets. The two squads were all even after the singles and the deciding point would come from the doubles matches.

“We had to play doubles second, which is not what you normally do in a dual match,” Schoonmaker said. “Once again, due to injuries, senior Nick Brunner wasn’t able to play. Nick is possibly our best doubles player. When you lose him, and then also lose sophomore Kyle Doppelet, you’re not at full strength. The guys who went out there played their hearts out, but we came up a little short.”

Two players who had notable performances this weekend were Raff and Fife. Against Brown, Raff beat Dan Henegby, ranked No. 57th in the nation at the time, 6-1, 6-3. Schoonmaker felt Raff had a chance to beat Henegby, but that to win so convincingly over him was quite an accomplishment. Fife, for his own part, won all three of his matches at No. 6 singles.