October 19, 2011

Tanasoiu Takes First Look at Players

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The Red hosted the USTA/ITA Northeast Regionals at Reis Tennis Center last weekend, which included some of the toughest competition in the region; however, that did not stop Cornell from pulling away with successful results.“It was a very successful tournament from our standpoint,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “[Even though] we are one of the youngest teams in the region — and possibly even in the nation — we had a pretty good showing. We had five guys in the round of 32 and were the only team in the Ivy League with two players in the quarterfinals, so that was extremely encouraging.”Cornell does have an unusually young team, boasting 10 freshmen, five sophomores and only three juniors. The team does not have a single senior.All the players who competed last weekend were freshmen, besides two sophomores — co-captain Evan McElwain and Venkat Iyer, who had an impressive showing.“Venkat made it to the semi-finals and he had a great tournament,” Tanasoiu said. The 12th-seeded Iyer came back to defeat Penn’s Ivan Turudic after losing the first set in the quarterfinals, but ultimately fell to fifth-seeded Vasko Mladenov of St. John’s.Freshman Quoc-Daniel Nguyen also had an impressive performance at Regionals, making it to the quarterfinals before being defeated by Yale’s sixth-seeded Mark Powers.“I was one of the last singles positions, so I wasn’t expecting to do that well [since so many] different schools come to Cornell for Regionals,” Nguyen said. “I beat three seeded opponents: one from Harvard, one from St. Johns and one from Boston College. The one from B.C. is actually ranked nationally in the NCAA so that was definitely a big win for me. In the quarterfinal on Monday, I played the No. 1 from Yale. I thought I put up a good fight — [the match] went to three sets but I couldn’t win … I was kind of drained from the other days.”Tanasoiu was excited about both Nguyen’s and the team’s performance.“I was extremely and pleasantly surprised with Quoc-Daniel … he was able to surpass three opponents that were seeded higher than he was at the beginning of the tournament, so that is encouraging going into the future. For the most part, I thought the team did very well, considering it’s the toughest competition of the fall.”The team was also pleased to have its new coach there for the tournament. “I actually thought it was great. He is a really effective and great coach,” Iyer said. “It was great having him around … he certainly helped. We did pretty well and his on-site coaching was spot-on.”Off the court, the players are satisfied because they feel they can relate to their coach.“Our whole team gets along really well with him,” Iyer said. “His ideas and philosophies are exactly what we believe in — a lot of hard work, dedication and discipline. I think that resonates pretty nicely not only with me, but with most of the guys on the team.”Although the season got off to a rough start, with a new coach in place it seems like all of the pieces are falling into place. “I got a chance to see everyone compete and play and it helped me come out with a game plan for the rest of the semester and going into the season next year,” Tanasoiu said. “It was a great opportunity for me to watch the team compete in a competitive environment.”With such a young team, each day is a new experience with new lessons to be learned.“[We freshman] are still adapting to the different styles of play and how college works,” Nguyen said. “Tennis is usually an individual sport and when you get to college, it’s a lot more team-oriented. We are such a young team, but we’re just coming in and playing against a bunch of guys without much experience. One of the big things [to work on] is getting each other pumped up during tournaments. Even though it’s an individual match, you are playing as a team. You need to stay emotionally in the game as well as physically.”Tanasoiu is wasting no time in getting down to business.“The first step of the game plan: we’re going to get on the court and start working,” he said. “I scheduled individual meetings with each player. Each one of them has things they need to improve on according to what I saw in the tournament. I will address the rest of the guys with my beliefs about what they need to be focusing on and working on, and we will get on the court and start working.”Tanasoiu’s outlook seems to coincide with the players’ opinions, as well.“It will certainly be good to have him as we go on,” Iyer said.

Original Author: Dani Abada