Fresh off a triumphant victory in the ECAC Championship match, Cornell men’s tennis continued its success, clinching its fourth consecutive win by toppling Tulsa in a 4-2 match this weekend.
The team entered the match donning its first ECAC title since the 2012-2013 season. During its tournament run, the Red defeated several Ivy foes, including Brown, Dartmouth and Harvard.
“I thought it was a great overall tournament,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “We had incredible support from an incredible crowd. The guys … battled as hard as I have ever seen them battle, and by doing that, I think they put themselves in the position to win.”
Following the victory, the team earned the No. 16 spot in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and moved to No. 25 in the Tennis Channel/USTA rankings — marking the team’s second-highest ranking in program history.
The Red (7-1) looked to extend this winning drive into its 9 a.m. match against No. 16 Tulsa. Even though Cornell ultimately secured the 4-2 win, the comeback victory was hard-fought.
“Tulsa is a very good team and they came in incredibly hungry — they gave us their absolute best, but I think that our guys competed so well,” Tanasoiu said. “They fought so hard — I don’t think we played our best tennis in this particular match, but I think we competed extremely well.”
Despite a 6-0 sweep from seniors Daniel Soyfer and Lev Kasakov against their competitors at No. 2 doubles, the Hurricanes came out on top in the other two matches, ultimately snatching the doubles point from the Red.
Soyfer, undefeated this season, neutralized the score in the No. 6 singles match with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. The Hurricanes, however, responded with a victory of their own in the No. 4 singles bout.
The Red did not allow Tulsa to flaunt its 2-1 lead for long, with junior Alafia Ayeni tying up the match when he toppled his opponent in a three-set victory at No. 2 singles.
Energized by the win, the Red fought to take the lead, with Kasakov leading the effort at No. 3 singles. Sporting a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 comeback win, the junior secured a slim advantage for the Red. Soon after, junior Pietro Rimondini battled out another 3-set comeback victory at No. 5 singles, a grueling 1-6, 6-0, 7-6 match that sealed the victory for Cornell.
“Our success so far creates a sense of awareness among the guys on the team that we are a good team, that we can compete with the best teams in the country,” Tanasoiu said. “It is a confirmation of what we knew we were capable of, and it fuels us and gives us motivation to train harder.”
The Red will have the weekend off before it leaves behind its home-court advantage to embark on its first regular-season road trip through Iowa, where it will take on Drake, Louisville and Iowa from Mar. 6 to Mar. 8.