April 22, 2008

Men’s Tennis Beats Penn; Women Fall to Princeton

Print More

The weekend after spring break means that Ivy League tennis is here once again. These four weeks offer tennis fans an opportunity to witness school rivalries played out on the hard courts of the northeast, as well a chance for the men’s and women’s teams to play for the elusive Ivy title. Since it was first awarded in 1956 for men and 1980 for women, the Red has failed to capture either Ivy League Championship. By contrast, Harvard and Princeton have won a combined 42 men’s titles and 24 women’s titles.
Although expectations were high entering conference play this year, the end result was all too familiar. The Harvard men and the Yale women were crowned the 2008 Ivy League champions this past weekend. Mathematically eliminated from contention going into play, both Cornell teams still had strong showings to close out the remaining regular season matches.[img_assist|nid=30117|title=Up, up and away|desc=Junior Tamara John concentrates on her serve during a 5-2 loss to Princeton on April 20.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Friday afternoon at the Reis Tennis Center, the men (9-12, 3-4 Ivy) defeated Penn (12-11, 3-4 Ivy), 4-3, in an emotional match. Following the passing of Stephen H. Weiss ’57, Board of Trustees chairman emeritus, Coach Barry Schoonmaker called a team meeting. It was decided that the team would dedicate its final home match to Weiss, a longtime benefactor of the Cornell tennis program.
“It was one of my proudest moments as a coach,” Schoonmaker said, “To see the guys get down and beat Penn. I was proud for someone who was so generous to our program.”
Cruising to victory in singles was junior Josh Goldstein and senior Rory Heggie, while sophomore Jon Fife and freshman Jeremy Feldman both came from behind to win in three sets. Despite the fact that Penn won the doubles point, junior Marc Asch and freshman Mirza Klis defeated Brandon O’Gara and Eric Riley at second doubles, 8-4.
On Sunday, the men completed the weekend sweep, defeating the Princeton Tigers (9-11, 1-6 Ivy), 4-3 at the Lenz Tennis Center in Princeton, NJ. The Red was led by strong singles performances from the bottom of the lineup, including wins by No.4 freshman Jonathan Jaklitsch, No. 5 Feldman, and No. 6 Heggie, respectively. Despite the fact that Princeton gained the doubles point, Heggie and Jaklitsch also won at No.3 doubles, defeating Ilya Trubov and Jeff Luse, 9-7. The match concluded a season of very close matches for the Red.
“It’s sort of crazy, but six of seven matches went 4-3. It just shows that we can play with everybody. Hopefully each week you can find guys who can step up just enough. I was really pleased with how we did that against Penn and Princeton. We have lot’s of depth,” Schoonmaker said.
Down in Philadelphia on Friday at Penn’s H. Hunter Lott Jr. Tennis Courts the women (9-7, 2-5 Ivy) fell to No. 65 Penn (11-7, 6-1 Ivy), 5-2. No.2 in singles, junior Elizabeth Googe defeated Julia Koulbitskaya 6-2, 7-6(9), while junior Tamara John served past Maria Anisimova 6-4, 4-6, 1-0(7) at the No.3 spot.
Back in sunny Ithaca on Sunday the women fought hard against No. 71 Princeton (12-8, 5-2 Ivy), but fell, 5-2. Cornell once again was boosted by play from the fifth and sixth singles, as freshman Ruxandra Dumitrescu defeated Sarah Hoffman, 6-3, 6-2 and junior Shayna Miller defeated Kelly Stewart 6-4, 6-1.
Regrettably, the top starters could not figure out how to break the serve of Princeton’s top players, as Princeton swept the No.1 through No.4 spots. In doubles, the Tigers won at first and third, while Miller and senior Dana Cruite easily dispatched their opposing team, Ivana King and Sarah Huah, 8-2.
“It’s hard to play against these top teams, and I don’t want to say we ended the season on a bad note,” Googe said, “because we definitely had an overall improvement in April, and we’re going to carry that into next fall. You know, our goal every season is to win the Ivy League championship, to win as many matches as we can, but every team is really good. To win you have to battle, and our matches were pretty close.”
The NCAA team selection will be held on April 28, while individual player selections are made April 30. The first and second round matches are slated to begin the second weekend of May.