With the match on the line and a chance to serve for the win, senior Bernardo Casares Rosa delivered for No. 20 Cornell men’s tennis. After trading the first two sets, Casares won a break in the third set and capitalized on the opportunity, putting the set out of reach with a 6-3 win.
The No. 6 singles match pushed Cornell (15-2) over Drake University 4-3. Cornell has now won three straight matches and is riding a balanced roster as the team heads into Ivy League play.
With prelim season in full swing, the team had to deal with a slightly different schedule heading into the match.
“I don’t think it was one of our better performances this year,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “We’ve had one of the most challenging weeks school wise, and I think that contributed to us being a little less energized than usual.”
Cornell lost the doubles point early on, with Drake taking two out of the three matchups. Sophomore David Volfson then lost the No. 1 singles match in straight sets.
Freshman Lev Kazakov won his No. 2 singles match, and then senior Colin Sinclair won the No. 3 match to tie the overall score at 2-2. Sinclair is undefeated thus far in the 2017 season.
“Colin is an exceptional kid overall,” Tanasoiu said. “[He] has had the biggest transformation from his freshman year to his senior year.”
When Sinclair was a freshman, he struggled to find a way into the lineup. Now, as a senior and the team’s captain, Sinclair has become a consistent player for the Red and someone the team can rely on week in and week out.
“Colin is a consistent contributor in singles and in doubles,” Tanasoiu said. “His attitude is outstanding, and he has been a great role model, not only through his wins but through his preparation and approach to every challenge.”
After senior Chris Vrabel lost the No. 4 singles match in straight sets, Cornell battled back with wins from freshman Pietro Rimondini and Casares to snatch the win from Drake.
“It wasn’t the prettiest performance of the season, but it was a good chance for us to show that we can win without being at our best,” Tanasoiu said.
The Red must now turn its attention towards No. 25 Columbia (11-3) as it prepares for the start of Ivy League play. The matchup will pose its own set of challenges for Cornell.
“I think this is the most talented team that Columbia has had in the past five years,” Tanasoiu said. “They have an extremely talented group of players.”
In addition to the high level of competition that Columbia will bring this weekend, Cornell will also have to deal with playing in a difficult venue.
“Columbia plays in the bubble which is an unusual set up and different from most places that we play in,” Tanasoiu said.
The bubble often amplifies echo, which, in combination with a loud crowd, can make it difficult for opposing players to focus. Tanasoiu is still confident that his team will perform well on Saturday.
“Overall we have an exceptional group, and we have devoted our time to getting better on a daily basis,” he said. “I think we’ve earned the right to expect to win this match.”