February 2, 2007

M. Tennis Opens Spring Season

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Sophomore netmen Joshua Goldstein and Kyle Doppelt surely remember their team’s 6-1 loss to Penn State last year. The third doubles pair will try to exorcise the demons from that match tomorrow when Cornell faces the Nittany Lions to begin its spring season.
“Last year, I hit a whopper serve and I hit the opponent in the groin,” Doppelt said. “The idea was, I was trying to jam him inside the serve. He tried to turn across with his torso and as he was doing that, he moved into the ball.”
Goldstein and Doppelt finally ceded their match in a tiebreaker, but the body hit is a lasting memory for the entire team. The Red will look to reverse last year’s results and start the season with a win.
“The first match of the year sets the tone,” said senior tri-captain Dan Brous. “Whether we win or lose, we will have a good idea of what we need to work on and where we need to go for the rest of the season.
“I think we have a very good chance of winning this season. We are going into the season with a different mentality. We will have more fun and start out with lower expectations. We don’t want to put so much pressure on ourselves. The reason is this is how we have our best chance of winning.”
Brous and fellow senior tri-captains Nick Brunner and Josh Raff will likely lead the Red in singles and doubles competition. Brous was the sole Red netman to eke out a match point from the meet Penn State last year.
Also expected to be on the lineup is freshman John Fife.
“Not knowing what to expect from him, he started with a bang,” Brous said of the breakthrough freshman.
“We had two duels i the fall where we played against three Ivy foes, and John Fife won in all three of his matches,” Brous said. “So we are really excited about his potential.”
“They are good,” Raff said, referring to his upcoming opponents. “The hardest thing about Penn State is they always have a solid lineup. They do not have any weak spots but they do not have superstarts either.”
Raff is ranked No. 104 in singles and No. 40 in doubles with partner Brunner. The ITA preseason rankings do not include any Penn State players.
“We kind of know what we are going to get with Penn State,” Raff said. “We need to play to a certain level to win against them.”
“Everyone is pretty excited for [Saturday’s march],” Raff said. “Everyone seems pretty good. We are definitely healthier than we were in the fall, so that’s very good.”
Renewal and a healthy start are on the minds of several of Cornell’s netmen.
“We got new uniforms this season and what our coach always says is that if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good,” said junior Weston Nicols.
Over break, several of the netmen went down to Florida to train at a tennis academy where they met unfamiliar competition.
“We tried to get ready for the season,” Brous said of the trip. “We played some big time players down there”
The Red will have had three weeks of formal practice before the matches tomorrow.
“We have been practicing since the start of rush week. A couple days leading up to matches w go a little bit easier to let everyone rest up,” Raff said.
The Red’s schedule will build up quickly after this weekend’s meet, with matchups scheduled this month against Binghamton, Army and Farleigh Dickson.
The Red will not see any Ivy competition until a late March meeting with Columbia. The Red will then play the rest of the Ancient Eight in quick succession, ending the regular season on May 22, with play against Princeton.
“The Ivy games are so far away we do not think about them now,” Raff said. “But every match we having coming up to it is a match to prepare us for the Ivy season. Everyone is really excited to play Penn State.”