October 20, 2006

M. Tennis Heads to Penn for Regionals

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Players from the men’s tennis team descended upon Philadelphia yesterday to participate in the Northeast men’s regional championships. The indoor contests, being held at Penn, come one week after a team effort netted mixed results at the Army Invitational.

The team’s youngest prospect in the regional, freshman Jonathon Fife, led Cornell’s charge in Philadelphia, notching the team’s first wins in two matches yesterday. Fife overcame his first opponent in three sets and then won a night match in straight sets, qualifying him for a spot in the main draw, which will be held today.

Fife is the sole underclassman addition to Cornell’s regional championships squad.

“[Fife] has done a fantastic job this year,” said senior tri-captain Dan Brous. “Coming in as a freshman, he stepped up to the college level, and we couldn’t expect any more of him.”
[img_assist|nid=19076|title=Back at you|desc=The men’s tennis team heads down to Philadelphia this weekend for the Northeast regional indoor championships. (Robert Bonow / Sun Photo Editor)|link=popup|align=right|width=69|height=100]
Brous will join Fife, junior Rory Heggie, and fellow senior tri-captains Josh Raff and Nick Brunner in the singles competitions. Cornell will also submit the doubles pairs of Brunner and Raff — ranked No. 40 in the nation — and Brous and Heggie. The competition does not bear on team standings, but is important nonetheless.

“Everyone individually is trying to do their best but we want to have a good showing as a team,” Brous said.

Raff and Brunner should receive special attention from Red fans after their victory at the All-American tennis championships in Tulsa two weeks ago hinted at the pair’s great potential. They fought into the second round of one of the toughest collegiate tennis tournaments in the nation, after slaying Wake Forest’s seventh-seeded pair of Andrew Hamar and Todd Paul, 8-5.

In the second round, Cornell’s top doubles team fell, 9-7, to Virginia’s pair of Treat Huey and Somdev dev Varman. Still, the Tulsa experience added to the pair’s confidence.

“The team that we beat last week is ranked higher and player better than any team out there this week,” Raff said.

Raff and Brunner are seeded third in the tournament and will probably enjoy a bye in the first round.

A repeat of the Tulsa performance by the duo could be decisive in Philadelphia, and Raff stressed that if he and Brunner “play like that this week there is no doubt that we can win.”

Despite Raff and Brunner’s headline victory in Tulsa, the rest of Cornell’s squad should also be expected to yield impressive results.

“We are all capable of getting the big win,” Raff said.

One place the Red may expect a big win is from the doubles pair of Brous and Heggie. They start the tournament today with a match against Yale’s Jeff Dawson and Josh Lederman. The Ivy-rivals should have an exciting match-up.

The Red faced Lederman and Dawson in singles matches last week at the Army Invitational held at West Point, N.Y. The Yale sophomores both held off their Cornell opponents, with Lederman beating junior Tongle Yu in two close sets, and Dawson winning the singles point from sophomore Marc Asch. Their victories added to Yale’s big sweep of Cornell in singles matches, which was followed by a group of doubles play in which each team won a point.

That weekend Cornell was successful in its matches against Army and managed to sweep those singles matches and also gained the doubles point.

Still, the struggles against Yale at West Point — which followed a similar mishap against the Bulldogs in the ECAC championships — are troubling especially for a team whose goal Raff said remains winning the Ivy League.