Cornell men’s tennis is riding high on a seven-game winning streak for an unblemished start to the season. The Red (7-0) were undefeated in six home matches before making the trip down to Oklahoma State University, to face the Cowboys (4-5) for the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Although the Red won by a scoreline of 5-2, it was quite a close and gritty performance, said Head Coach Silviu Tanasoiu. It was a tough adjustment for the Red, who had not played an outdoor match so far. That, plus the windy conditions, gave the Red a tough time getting off the ground.
“We played in some very adverse conditions. It was our first match outdoors without hardly any practice [outdoors]”, Tanasoiu said.
The Cowboys got the lead at first by securing the doubles point with wins at second and third doubles, thus leading the Red by one. The teams also split the opening sets of all six singles matches. However, the Red quickly responded and turned the match around, sweeping the second sets of all the single matches. This got Cornell on the board as junior Vladislav Melnic won at No. 2 singles in straight-sets against Sebastian Nothhaft, who is ranked No. 88 in the ITA Singles Rankings.
Freshman Adit Sinha secured the lead for the Red at No. 6 singles, also with a straight-sets win. Senior Alafia Ayeni and freshman Radu Papoe both came back from a set down to beat their opponents in three sets at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots, respectively, giving the Red a 5-1 lead over the Cowboys.
The Cowboys won the last singles match at the No. 5 spot, as Fran Pini defeated senior Pietro Rimondi in a tight third-set super-tiebreaker, with Rimondi losing 11-9.
Despite an undefeated start to the season, the Red is still hungry for more.
“We don’t pay attention too much [to] a record…the overall mentality is just eagerness to fight and to battle. I think this is a very, very hungry group,” Tanasoiu said.
The Red look to continue their hot streak as they host the ECAC Indoor Championships this weekend, where they will get their first taste of Ivy League competition. The level of tennis in the Ivy League is rising every year, according to Tanasoiu.
Tanasoiu said, “It’s a testament to the wins that all these teams like Harvard, Columbia [and] Princeton have had already… so the level in the Ivy League is probably as high as it’s ever been.”
It’s been nearly two years since the Red has faced an Ivy opponent and they are looking forward to the challenge.
The ECAC Men’s Indoor Championships will take place this weekend, starting on Friday at Reis Tennis Center in Ithaca, NY. Draws and timings will be posted on the Cornell Men’s Tennis Twitter account.
The women’s team, however, have not experienced the same luck as their counterparts. The Red is currently 0-5 on the season, and it lost three straight matches against Ivy-rivals, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth this past weekend when Cornell hosted the ECAC Women’s Indoor Championships.
Despite the results, there were much closer losses against its Ivy rivals than in past years.
“The last time we competed in the Ivy’s and the ECACs, we didn’t have the same results that we had this past weekend,” said Head Coach Katie Zordani.
The Red, however, did have a look at victory against Dartmouth, as the Red was up 3-1 against the Big Green, only needing one more win to clinch the match. Ultimately, the Red were unable to convert, and the Big Green sweeped the next three singles matches to secure the victory.
“We ended up losing 4-3, but it just shows that we’ve had great improvement through the offseason. And we’re going to continue to improve throughout the rest of the season,” Zordani said.
The women’s team looks to get in the win column this coming weekend with a match against Boston College at noon on Sunday in Binghamton, New York.
“We’re excited to play Boston College,” Zordani said. “They’re always a strong ACC team…they’re always a good matchup for us and a good opportunity to play an ACC school that has seen a lot of success.”
In six all-time matchups between the Red and the Eagles, the Red has only come out victorious once. But regardless, the players are “looking to win.”