On Sunday, Cornell men’s tennis came up short in a close matchup with Clemson, falling to the Tigers by a score of 4-3.
Just three bouts into a young season, head coach Silvui Tanasoiu says amping up the aggression will be a major focus for the team going forward.
“Tentative tennis never works and our performance against Clemson is living proof of that,” he said. “We have seven young men very capable of imposing their will against their opponents and we need to do a better job preparing them going forward.”
Although the loss is not what the team was hoping for, freshman Alafia Ayeni dominated in straight sets and senior Daniel Grunberger continued his perfect season with a 7-5 victory in the third set.
One of only three seniors on the team and the only fourth-year player to compete in singles against Clemson, Grunberger is doing his best to step into a leadership role both on and off the court.
“As a senior, I feel as if my role has changed on the team,” Grunberger said. “I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years that I can help the younger guys on the team deal with on and off the court.”
Now with three straight victories at the No. 4 singles position, Grunberger has really focused on remaining mentally strong during stressful situations throughout the match.
“Being a senior and having that experience has helped me deal with the high-stress moments during the matches,” Grunberger said. “I can remember during last year’s season there were a few moments that I could have handled better, but I feel as if I have already handled those moments better this season such as against Ole Miss and Clemson last weekend.”
The benefits of experience go further, and Grunberger is well-able to play according to his strengths and weakness.
“This season I’ve been concentrating on focusing on playing my game to get my job done on the court,” he said. “I feel that if I have that focus and not get distracted by the things around me such as my teammate’s scores or the crowd, I can play my best tennis.”
“Daniel has a very clear understanding of who he is as a tennis player and as long as he takes the initiative, he will be a tough player to beat by anybody,” Tanasoiu added.
Transferring from downstate rival Columbia for his junior year, Grunberger played a huge role in the Red’s success last season going 9-4 in spring singles matches and has shown no signs of slowing down.
“My mindset coming to Cornell was that even though I only had two seasons remaining in my college career, I wanted to do all I could to make the most of those two seasons and help the Cornell team reach new heights,” Grunberger said.
Reaching new heights is exactly what the Grunberger and the team will try to do this weekend as the they face off against Memphis and Penn State.
“We only have three days to prepare for a very strong Memphis and Penn State team,” Tanasoiu said. “We need to do a better job imposing our will against our opponents and the results will take care of themselves.”
The Red return to action this Friday at the Reis Tennis Center at 5 p.m. against the University of Memphis.