Aubrey Akers / Sun File Photo

Men's tennis has its sights set on next spring, when it hopes to win an Ivy League championship.

September 23, 2019

Men’s Tennis Hopes Tough Opening Tournament Springboards Spring Success

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After a long summer, the Cornell men’s tennis team began its 2019-2020 campaign with a trip to Princeton Sept. 20-22 for the annual Farnsworth-Ivy Plus tournament. After a loss to Columbia ended his team’s season last year, head coach Silviu Tanasoiu is motivated to push his team to new heights this time around.

“Our primary goal is to be as professional as we can possibly be in our approach to training, competing and everything else preparation-wise that pertains to us giving the best possible chance to perform at the highest level,” Tanasoiu said.

Four players represented the Red at the event. In the Cordish bracket, sophomore Knonstantin Kirovski lost his second-round match to Kentucky’s Parth Aggarwal by a score of 6-1, 6-3.

In doubles, Kirovski teamed up with junior Evan Bynoe to defeat Luka Vukovic and Patrick Graziani of Indiana, 8-4.

In the next round of the Rockefeller bracket, the Red conquered the Miami duo of Stephen Madonia and Pablo Aycart-Joya by a score of 8-3 before an injury brought an early end to Kirovski’s weekend.

“I thought the tournament was successful for me. It was unfortunate that I injured my shoulder,” Kirovski said. “I played very good tennis. My forehand worked very well.”

Bynoe continued his tournament in the Tiger bracket, where he took on Scott Jones of Tennessee. After fighting hard for two sets, he suffered a 6-4, 6-0 loss. Despite losing in singles, the junior said he had much to be proud of this weekend.

“Doubles was fantastic,” Bynoe said. “I think Konstantin and I worked really well together as a team. As for singles, I would say I played fairly well, though there’s lots of room for improvement.”

Over in the Pagoda bracket, junior Denton Ho faced Buffalo’s Valdemar Holm. The two produced a thrilling, back-and-forth three-setter that saw Ho come out on the losing end 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. Ho hopes to draw on his experiences this weekend and use the fall tournament schedule to work on his game.

“I felt that I played at quite a good level this weekend but [didn’t win] since I haven’t played a tournament in awhile,” Ho said. “I was able to get a lot of good match experiences this week and I hope to build on that.”

Rounding out the singles matches, junior Eero Vasa competed in the Lenz bracket against Tennessee’s Jordan Chrysostom. He fell to his opponent 6-4, 6-4. In doubles, Vasa and Ho teammed up in the Forbes bracket to take on Michigan’s Harrison Brown and Kristofer Siimar. After a contested match, the pair fell 8-3.

Despite the loss-heavy results, Tanasoiu sees this weekend as a learning experience for the team. He said he is excited to watch his team grow this season while they focus on improvement everyday at practice.

For the Red, this weekend was the start of an exciting year in which the team will look for redemption. After Columbia ended Cornell’s season and NCAA tournament chances, everyone is eager and focused on accomplishing more.

“I am very excited about the entire group of guys we have for this year,” Tanasoiu said. “We have a tremendous amount of depth with some incredibly talented individuals that are capable of great things. I have a lot of faith in this entire group and believe we will accomplish great things together.”

The Red is eyeing something much greater this season. With their coach behind them, the players’ sights are already set on next spring’s NCAA tournament as well as the Ivy League crown.

“I would love to help lead the team to an Ivy League Title and make the NCAA tournament,” Bynoe said. “We came extremely close last season and saw a little glimpse of what we’re capable of, so I think we’re all hungry for more this time around.”

One of the biggest concerns for Tanasoiu and the team for this season will be staying healthy. The injury to Kirovski this weekend is a reminder that tennis is a sport that requires its athletes to be in peak physical shape. The season is long and grueling and for the Red to succeed, it will have to get season-long contributions from all its players.

“Last year we played half our season without two of our better players,” Tanasoiu said. “We need to do a better job in that department.”

With months until the ultimate goals — an Ivy championship and the NCAA Tournament — the team’s next test will come Sept 27 when it heads to Yale for Ivy Minus.