With Cornell’s dual season already underway for the men and about to begin for the women, upcoming games are critical for both teams as the Red strives toward a strong start to the second half of the season.
On the men’s side, the Red (2-0) is ranked No. 70 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. On Saturday, the squad came out on top with a 6-1 win over George Washington (0-1). G.W.’s point was earned by winning the greater number of doubles contests — two to one — before Cornell took six points in a sweep of all the singles matches played that day. Junior tri-captain Venkat Iyer and sophomore tri-captain Sam Fleck were both able to take down Top-100 opponents from G.W. in order to earn the wins at the No.1 and No.2 singles spots.
“I was pretty satisfied with my performance this weekend. I played a good match,” Iyer said. “I think [the person] who did a standout job this weekend was [sophomore] Quoc Nguyen — he played a great match and got our first singles win of the day.”
Nguyen, playing the No. 4 singles match, defeated his competitor in just two 6-2 sets. The win was one of six that helped the Red gain confidence and poise.
“I think we were extremely focused and had high energy. This helped us have a very successful match,” Iyer said.
He noted that while the singles performance was solid, there is always room for improvement and that will come in the form of discipline and hard work on the court as the Red prepares for more matches. Looking forward, the team will face No. 48 Alabama on Friday and No. 56 St. John’s on Sunday in Queens, N.Y.
“They are both good teams, and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Iyer said. “The season has started well for us, and we hope to keep it going. This team has really come together as a strong unit and is constantly improving day-by-day.”
The women’s team also had a strong showing this past weekend during the three-day Cornell Winter Invitational. Senior co-captain Sarah O’Neil and sophomore Sara Perelman respectively took the A and B singles titles in straight sets. Additionally, the all-freshman team of Laila Judeh and Dena Tanenbaum won the doubles draw.
“Results-wise, we were very successful. It shows that we did our jobs over break, staying in match shape and keeping sharp on the court,” O’Neil said. “At the same time, it was a small tournament so we need to keep the success in perspective. The results are exciting, but we have much bigger goals to look ahead to.”
The team’s goals include winning matches against UMBC and St. John’s Saturday at home.
“UMBC and St. John’s are strong teams. We saw them at a few fall tournaments and their doubles were pretty sharp so that will likely be our focus this week in practice,” O’Neil said. “When it comes to singles, we all know what we need to work on from an individual standpoint. It is just a matter of us working on weaknesses and sticking to game plans that give us the best chance of coming away with a win for the team.”
Unlike the men’s weekend play, which will be spread out over a few days, the women’s matches will be back-to-back on Sunday. O’Neil said that while the double-header will be an additional challenge, the Cornell Invitational helped prepare the team for it.
“A double-header is no different than a typical tournament day,” she said. “Since we were successful in this weekend’s home invitational, I think that we can all be confident in our fitness and ability to be successful against both opponents.”
Original Author: Reena Gilani