March 7, 2013

TENNIS | Red Prepares to Defend Seven-Game Win Streak

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With rackets ready to rumble, the men’s tennis team is preparing to host the 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifier Memphis at Reis Tennis Center Sunday at 1 p.m. Ranked No. 23 in the country, the highest national ranking in program history, the Red is set to face off against the 69th-ranked Tigers for just the second time in the teams’ history.“I think it’s a milestone for our tennis program reaching this high rank,” head coach Silviu Tanasoiu said. “I appreciate that it’s great … for our players to reach such recognition on a national scene, but more importantly, we are excited as a staff and a team about the team chemistry and the progress we have made as a team since the beginning of the year. We are only looking to improve and get better from here on out.”Hosting the Tigers is just the beginning for the Red. Entering the match on Sunday with seven consecutive victories, Cornell (9-1) has had a strong showing during the spring season. Starting with a Feb. 3 win over St. John’s, who was nationally ranked at the time, the Red has made its presence known.Moving on to win the ECAC Indoor Men’s Tennis Championships by toppling the top two seeds, Harvard and Columbia, in the semifinals and finals respectively, Cornell solidified its place as a top contender in the league. The win gave the Red its second ECAC Indoor title in the past three years.Sophomore and team captain Sam Fleck has a team-best record of 8-1 from the top half of the singles lineup. The team captain also pairs up with sophomore Kyle Berman to comprise a No. 3 doubles tandem that has recorded a perfect 7-0 record thus far. Sophomores Quoc-Daniel Nguyen and Jason Luu are 7-1 from the middle of the order.Drawing talent from every player on the team, Tanasoiu expressed his pleasure at how well the team is playing at this point in the spring season.“Right now our strength is our team and every single person from 1-6 is competing at a high level,” he said.While the Red is primed to turn up the heat against Memphis on Sunday, the Tigers have been up against a tough schedule so far this season. Memphis’s 3-4 record is deceiving, as the team has suffered a few close losses to nationally-ranked opponents in recent weeks. The Tigers come to Ithaca fresh off a pair of 4-2 losses to SEC powerhouses No. 40-ranked Vanderbilt and No. 13 Ole Miss. Memphis’s three wins have come at home, including victories against No. 57 Michigan State on Jan. 18 and Southern Illinois and Murray State on Feb. 8.“Memphis, in my opinion, is one of the toughest teams we’ll face this semester,” Tanasoiu said. “They have their entire lineup returning and we are going to face a very tough opponent. They were only a few points from beating Ole Miss. … We are excited to host them and compete against a team of their caliber. We are looking forward to the challenge.”The Tigers are led by sophomore Connor Glennon and junior Joe Salisbury, who is ranked No. 6 in the Ohio Valley region and 79th in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Glennon, sophomore David O’Leary and junior Johnny Grimal are also ranked in the region, 10th, 11th and 14th, respectively.Sunday will mark the first time that Memphis will play against an Ivy League opponent on the road. Cornell and the Tigers have not crossed paths since March of 2003, when Memphis eked out a 4-3 victory over the Red in Blacksburg, Va.Offering free pizza to the first 200 fans who attend Sunday’s match, Tanasoiu said that he is excited for the Red to have the opportunity to play against such a talented team and he hopes that the Ithaca community will come cheer for the Red.“We would love and appreciate the Ithaca community’s support for this match,” he said. “Our players need this because we feed off the support from the crowd, so it would be great to compete against a team like Memphis with a lot of people in the stands. We have reached such a high ranking in the history of our program and going against Memphis we are hoping to have the Ithaca community’s support.”

Original Author: Lauren Ritter