This story has been updated.
For the first time in program history, the Cornell men’s tennis team will be advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
In a commanding 4-0 decision, Cornell (21-3) defeated No. 43 Rice (23-7) on Friday afternoon at host school Baylor in Waco, Tx. The win also marked the Red’s first tournament win in program history, and the team will look to make it two on Saturday at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. central) against Baylor in the second round.
Despite the final 4-0 scoreline, Cornell faced an early challenge in its doubles sets. Seniors Colin Sinclair and Chris Vrabel took the first doubles match, 6-3, but the contest was soon evened out by a 6-2 loss by sophomore David Volfson and freshman Lev Kazakov.
With the third doubles match becoming the deciding factor, senior Bernardo Casares Rosa and sophomore Juan Jose Rosas faced immense pressure in the final set, which would prove to be tightly contested. The two teams were forced into a tiebreaker after neither led by more than a single point in regular time. The Cornell pair would continue to battle its opponents and finally secure the doubles point in a 9-7 decision.
“It was good to win the doubles match today, even if it took us nine or 10 matches points,” head coach Silviu Tanasoiu said in a video posted to the team’s Twitter account. “It was great to pull that one away.”
With the 1-0 lead off the doubles point, the Red faced a considerably smoother road in singles play. Freshman Pietro Rimondini secured Cornell’s first singles point with a two-set win in 6-2 and 6-3 decisions. Vrabel quickly followed up with another two-set victory to put the Red up 3-0, and Sinclair sealed a ticket to the second round with a win in two sets of 6-2 and 6-4.
“I was happy with singles,” Tanasoiu added. “We kept it very simple with very disciplined tennis throughout the entire match [and] took care of business.”
With the win, the Red will play No. 7 Baylor (21-7) in the second round. The host Bears blanked Lamar University in their first round contest. The match will take place on Saturday, May 13, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Round of 16 hosted at the University of Georgia.