Spring is a difficult time of year for tennis players. Time to leave the coddled embrace of indoor courts and go outside, where wind, sunlight and humidity all become significant factors in a match. For those who do not play tennis, this may not seem like a big deal, but there are significant challenges this adjustment process brings.
The men’s tennis team seems to be adjusting well, starting off its first match outdoors with a 7-0 victory over Binghamton.
“A very good first match outdoors,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “We didn’t have any high expectations, we just wanted to make sure we were playing the right way outdoors. And I think for the most part we did. There is a lot to work on still.”
Despite what may seem to be a complete blowout from a glance at the score, Tanasiou was sure to tip his cap to the players on Binghamton.
“I wouldn’t say it was a blow out,” Tanasiou said. “Even though we won 7-0, there were three matches where we had to win in three sets. A very good first match outdoors.”
This kind of win is typically a huge boost for a team’s morale, according to Tanasiou. Three set matches are stressful, high-intensity experiences — to go into three, and then win all three, is not at all common. For the beginning of the Spring season, this kind of victory is absolutely key in setting a strong tone of confidence and intensity for the exciting weeks to come, Tanasiou said.
Next week, the men are going up against St. John’s. The last match against St. John’s in the ECAC Indoor Championships was fairly decisive — a 4-1 victory. However, Silviu isn’t resting on his laurels whatsoever.
“To be quite honest, I don’t think the matches will have anything in common,” he said. “Initially we played them indoors, and now we’re playing them outdoors on their home court. I think it’s going to be quite a different match than the first time around.”
Tanasiou also mentioned St. John’s recent performances, where the Red Storm beat Harvard and was only a point away from beating Dartmouth.
“I think this is going to be a very good challenge for us,” Tanasiou said.
Following the Red’s match at Binghamton, the real play begins. Or at least, the play Cornellians want to see. Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth, back-to-back-to-back, all at home. The Ivy League is by no means known for weak tennis. Not at all. So when Tanasiou remarked on a “golden year” for Ivy League tennis, he really wasn’t kidding — Ivy League tennis right now is world-class.
“We all know going into the season that the Ivy league as a conference is in its golden year right now,” Tanasiou said. “We’re competing against the deepest lineups that the Ivy league has ever seen. From Columbia, to Harvard, to Dartmouth, all of these teams are beating great teams consistently. To play all of these teams at home — it’s a wonderful opportunity for us.”
The name David Volfson might not ring any bells to you, but in due time he will be creating quite the buzz on the Cornell tennis scene. A freshman from Thornhill, Ontario, Volfson joined the team with a 988 ATP ranking (that’s top 1,000 in the world). So far, he has been playing No. 1 singles with a 0.545 win ratio.
However one player can’t carry a team to victory. As Tanasiou described it, a truly dominant team has to “fire from all cylinders.” According to the head coach, this is where the men’s team shines.
“I don’t think there’s one player anyone needs to focus on. I’m not just saying it because it’s a cliche,” Tanasiou said. “I think this is why other teams are looking out for us.”
According to junior Colin Sinclair, playing at home brings its own share of advantages, and is entertaining for tennis fans and non-tennis fans alike.
“All the guys are cheering on the outside,” Sinclair said. “We’re always yelling and getting into fights with guys on the other team. It’s a really fun atmosphere.”
The St. Johns’ match will take place on Friday, then the Red returns home for the trio of Ivy League matchups starting against Columbia on March 26th.