The men’s tennis team hopes its opponents will drop left and right like the last withered and crushed leaves of autumn as the Red hosts the Cornell Fall Indoor Invitational at Reis Tennis Center this weekend in its final tournament of the fall season.
Colgate, Marist, Buffalo, Army, Navy, Temple, Binghamton, and Fairleigh Dickinson are among the schools sending either a few players or a full squad to compete in the Invitational’s broad field. Except for Binghamton, the Red is hosting an entirely different pool of players at the indoor tournament from the Cornell Fall Outdoor Invitational held in September.
“The Cornell Invitationals are usually the first and last tournaments we do,” said head coach Barry Schoonmaker. “It’s nice to start at home and end at home. Any guy who played at regionals won’t be playing since there’s a limit to how many dates they can play in a season. Plus it gives the guys who didn’t travel last weekend a chance to show what they can do.”
In Flight A singles, junior Weston Nichols and sophomore Peter Kung will serve it up against Matt Struble (Temple) and Gabriel Lopez (Fairleigh Dickinson), respectively. Both Nichols and Kung had success playing in last year’s tournament, with both reaching the finals of their singles flights. Nichols also paired with junior Kevin Jay to win the B flight doubles championship.
According to Schoonmaker, this weekend’s matches will be a good opportunity for Kung to log some playing time after missing a few tournaments earlier in the fall due to illness.
Playing in Flight B singles for the Red are Jay, who will play Michael Yassky of Colgate, and junior Tongle Yu, who will face Alex James of Navy. Sophomore Bryant Yung takes on Buffalo’s Eric Rothsetin while freshman Richard Offutt plays Marist’s Michael Land in Flight C singles.
Offutt will face Land in the first round of Flight B doubles as well, as he and freshman Ashish Bhandari take on Land and his partner Jeff Nguyen (Marist). Yu and freshman Jonathan Fife pair up against Colgate’s Michael Shea and Jonathan Lampert. Yu has high standards for his performance this weekend.
“I want to win my doubles flight, and also my singles division,” Yu said. “My goal is to represent Cornell men’s tennis to the best of my ability.”
The Flight A doubles teams are equally hungry for a win. Jay and Kung will combine forces against Struble and Phillip Gegenheimer of Temple. Colgate’s Martin MacIntyre and Yassky will try to stop Nichols and Yung.
“In doubles, [Yung] and I are looking to win the tournament,” said Nichols. “We haven’t played together all that much, but we played in California this summer at the USA National Hard Court Championships and lost a close match to a really tough pair, the No. 1 seed.”
Over the fall season the Red has made progress as a team while each player has worked on different strokes and strategies, fine-tuning his individual game.
“People don’t really think of tennis as a team sport,” Yu said. “It’s only you against one guy out there. When you get out on the court as the lone competitor, you have your entire team behind you, even if you’re playing your own teammate. You know you’re part of something bigger.”
“We’ve definitely improved as a team because of all the training we’ve done,” Nichols said. “We’ve done a lot of running, and it’s paid off. There’ll be much more conditioning and lifting in the off-season, I’m looking forward to that.”