October 22, 2012

TENNIS | C.U. Finishes Fall Season With Strong Showing

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The men’s tennis team closed out its fall season this past weekend with a solid performance at the USTA/ITA Northeast Regional. The Red did well in singles and doubles, reaching at least the Round of 16 in both brackets. Junior co-captain Venkat Iyer and freshman Dragos Dima lost, 8-5, in the doubles Round of 16 to the third seeded team, Marc Powers and Daniel Hoffman of Yale. Co-captain sophomore Sam Fleck made a dent in the singles bracket, also reaching the Round of 16 before falling, 6-3, 6-1, to the tournament’s number one seed, Matija Pecotic of Princeton.

On Sunday, the sophomore tandem of Fleck and Quoc-Daniel Nguyen upset the fourth seeded team from Brown, Soufiane Azargui and Brandon Burke, in a tight, 9-7, win that put the duo into the semifinals.

“A couple of the guys last year actually played that team and lost, so we kind of knew what to expect,” said Nguyen. “Coach [helped us] figure out a game plan to play them. We were actually losing like, 6-3, and we were down a break … We were just able to turn it around. Me and Sam were playing really well and just fought the whole match … so that was a pretty big win for us. That was probably our first match against a really good team, and it just turned out really well.”

On Monday, Fleck and Nguyen battled against the second seeds, Columbia’s Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur, but this time the Red did not pull out another upset. The duo lost, 8-6, to the Lions.

“I thought we played pretty well, and they were a pretty good team, arguably one of the best [in the tournament]” Nguyen said. “I know we lost, but I [still] thought we ended up having a pretty good tournament.”

After this fall season, Nguyen considers the squad to be a decent competitor in the Ivy League, but is certain that the time off will help Cornell come out on top this spring.

“I think we stand in an okay position. None of our guys did that exceptionally well in singles. We did really well in doubles, but compared to the Ivies right now, I’d say we’re kind of in the middle,” he said. “A lot of our guys played a bunch of Ivy guys — we probably won fifty percent of our matches against Ivy League players, we lost fifty percent. So at the moment, we’re just looking okay, not really great. But that’s just something we need to work on. That was our last tournament, so we just gotta go back and work really hard. When it comes to the spring we’ll be ready for sure.”

On the women’s side, senior co-captain Christine Ordway also made a run to the Round of 16 at Regionals. Ordway came back from a first set deficit on Sunday to upset Stony Brook’s ninth-seeded Nini Lagvilava in three sets, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. She mentioned that exploiting her opponent’s weaknesses was a factor securing the win.

“Obviously she was the 9th seed, so I knew she was going to be good,” said Ordway. “The match sort of came down to finding a weakness, and I was able to realize that obviously her backhand was a big weakness. I was able to attack that and it went in my favor.”

Later in the day, Ordway fell to Hannah Camhi of Brown, losing the second set in a tiebreaker, 6-0, 7-6(3).

The Red’s freshmen also showed promise this weekend, with Laila Judeh and Dena Tanenbaum both making it to the second round of the singles bracket on Saturday.

“We have a really solid group of freshmen,” Ordway said. “They all competed really well. It’s great to make your first regional tournament and we had two of them in here, so that was awesome. They know what they need to work on but [this weekend] showed them that they can compete at this level.”

Ordway reiterated that having the next few months off will definitely help the Red come out punching for the second half of its season.

“I think the fall showed us that we can obviously compete, but we have things to work on in these next three months in order to hopefully come out and possibly win the Ivy League title,” she said. “We know what we need to work on going forward. As long as these next few months are productive and everyone focuses on their weaknesses and gets better, I think we’ll have a really good spring.”

Original Author: Olivia Wittels