Cameron Pollack/Sun Senior Photographer

Although a conference title is no longer in play — single performances from junior David Volfson, sophomore Lev Kazakov and freshmn Alafia Ayeni kept afloat the team's NCAA ambitions on the way to besting a pair of Ivy rivals last weekend.

April 23, 2018

Men’s Tennis Sweeps Yale, Brown Over Weekend, Eyes At-Large Tournament Bid In Crucial Senior Day Match

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It’s been a long time coming, but Cornell men’s tennis was finally able to break a season-long pattern of coming up just short to secure two decisive victories over the weekend.

The Red (10-10, 3-3 Ivy) swept conference rivals Yale (15-10, 1-5) 4-2, and Brown (10-12, 0-6), 4-1, to extend its win streak to three.

“I actually don’t think we played our very best, but we did compete incredibly well,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “It was a certainly a good opportunity to compete outside, learn about ourselves … and prepare for our [season-closer] against Columbia.”

Consistent play from the Red’s top three singles, who collectively went 5-0 throughout the weekend, helped propel the team to victory. Returning from absences last weekend, junior David Volfson and sophomore Lev Kazakov continued to reintegrate back into Cornell’s lineup at the first and third singles spots, respectively. Freshman Alafia Ayeni found continued success at the second singles spot by winning both weekend matchups.

“All the guys had a much more constructive attitude and were feeding off each other throughout the matches,” Tanasoiu said. “They competed hard and understood that to win you don’t necessarily have to play fantastic tennis, but [rather] have your mind in the right place.”

While the squad no longer remains in contention to be Ivy League champions, the Red will still have an opportunity to secure an at-large tournament bid in next weekend’s season finale against Columbia.

“It’s certainly a goal of ours to compete in the NCAAs and … it’s exciting to have the last match of the season with [our goal] still in front of us,” Tanasoiu said. “Columbia will be tough … but wehave a tough schedule all season which has prepared us well with this match.”

To prevail in its season closer, Cornell must overcome a Lions squad that is ranked No.16 in the country and sits one win behind conference leaders Dartmouth.

“It will take every single guy competing hard and playing well to beat Columbia … but I am confident we are capable of playing on a higher level,” Tanasoiu said.

Cornell will play its regular season closer against Columbia this Saturday, Apr. 28 at Reis Tennis Center at 1 p.m. The matchup will also serve as the Red’s annual Senior Night.