The decade is off to a promising start for Cornell’s men’s tennis team. The Red’s season-opening record remains unblemished after a pair of 7-0 wins this weekend.
A double-header on Sunday tested the endurance of the Red (3-0), but the team overcame the early-season challenge. The team emerged as victors against Michigan State (3-3) and Colgate (1-1) to extend its winning streak to three.
The match opened up with a closely-contested doubles series. A swift win by junior Pietro Rimondini and junior Evan Bynoe at No. 3 doubles gave the Red some cushion. However, the doubles results were far from sealed. Junior Eero Vasa and senior Daniel Soyfer at No. 3 doubles and senior Lev Kazakov and junior Alafia Ayeni at No. 2 doubles battled into a tiebreaker in their respective matches. Both pairs eked out the 7-6 victories to clinch the doubles point, giving the Red an early advantage.
“There is no doubt about the importance of the doubles point,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “… The execution in doubles is something we need to devote a lot of time, effort and focus to in the next few days leading up to our next matches. We need to be as sharp as possible and consistent as possible.”
Despite a nail-biting doubles round, the Red handily swept the competition in the singles bout. Vasa, Ayeni, Kazakov, Soyfer and Rimondini each beat their competition in straight sets.
The Red carried the winning momentum into its second match of the day. Even with some modifications to its lineup, the team dominated the Colgate Raiders by a landslide 7-0 tally.
The formidable doubles pairings — Vasa and Soyfer, Bynoe and sophomore Konstantin Kirovski as well as senior Joseph McAllister and junior Denton Ho — easily vanquished their competition. Following three straight wins, the Red headed into the singles series with a 1-0 advantage.
Bynoe took the lead at the No. 1 singles spot, where he battled for a 3-6, 6-1 and 10-2 win. Soyfer moved to the No. 2 singles spot, beating his Colgate competitor in straight sets. Making his second season appearance, McAllister delivered another victory for the Red, scoring 6-0 in both sets.
With a wide scoring gap already established in the Red’s favor, Kirovski, Ho and senior Rohan Sikka added three more wins to the scoreboard. These players dominated their opponents in straight sets — a very impressive season debut for each of them.
“One of the things that we have been working on in practice and one of the things we wanted to see applied in the matches was being sharp with our execution,” Tanasoiu said. “I definitely believe that there were moments where we were sharp, but I think there is also plenty of improvement to be made.”
Cornell has a tough schedule ahead as they welcome Michigan on Friday at 6 p.m. to the Reis Tennis Center. The match will be a true test of skill and grit, as the No. 17 Wolverines pose an imminent threat to the Red’s flawless record.
“We have one of the toughest schedules we have ever had.” Tanasoiu said. “But we have an incredible group of guys who are capable of doing some great things this season. We have a chance to do some great things and compete with some of the best teams in the nation.”