Courtesy of Ryan Griffith/Cornell Athletics

The Cornell Big Red Women’s Tennis team competes against Colgate on Saturday, March 5th, 2022 at Reis Tennis Center.

April 20, 2022

Men’s Tennis Advances in Ivy League, Women’s Tennis Honors Its Seniors

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Cornell tennis had a memorable weekend as men’s tennis overcame Ivy-rivals Yale and Brown, and women’s tennis celebrated Senior Day with a win over Brown. 

The men’s team (16-6, 3-1 Ivy) earned its 15th win of the year with a hard fought match against Yale (9-11, 1-4 Ivy). The Bulldogs won the first completed doubles match; however, the Red rallied back and won No.1 and No. 3 doubles to secure the doubles point to give them a 1-0 lead. After that, it was not much of a battle when the Red won three of the top four singles positions, clinching the match for Cornell. The No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches that were in progress retired after the match was already won by Cornell, allowing the final score to be 4-3. 

Riding on a two-match winning streak, the Red headed to Providence to face Brown (9-13, 0-5 Ivy), who had yet to win a single Ivy match. 

After the top two doubles matches, Cornell secured the doubles point and went up 1-0 for the lead. The Bears did not stand a chance after that with senior Alafia Ayeni, junior Vladislav Melnic and freshman Nathan Mao all winning in straight sets to clinch the sweep for the Red, in a 4-0 victory. 

With a win over Brown, Cornell is still in the mix to covet the Ivy League title. They are behind only Harvard, who is undefeated, and tied with Columbia and Penn, who both also only have one loss. 

Cornell will travel to face No. 39 Princeton (17-7, 3-2 Ivy) at 2 p.m. on Friday in New Jersey, before returning home to try and overtake Penn (17-5, 4-1 Ivy) in the Ivy standings at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Reis Tennis Center. 

The women’s team (8-10, 3-2 Ivy) began its four-game homestand with a weekday match, concluding with an astonishing 7-0 sweep over a winless Binghamton (0-22) on April 13. All but one singles match was won in straight-sets, including a double bagel by senior Khary Pryce at No. 6 singles. 

Riding on this midweek momentum, the Red faced a tough opponent in nationally-ranked No. 59 Yale (12-8, 3-1 Ivy) on Saturday. Cornell took the lead after winning the doubles point, however it did not last long as the Bulldogs swept the first four completed singles matches, three of which ended in straight-sets, while sophomore Lauren Stein pushed her opponent to the brink in a tight three-set match at No. 3 singles, but Stein was unable to come through with the win. 

The team had to put that loss on the backburner quickly as it hosted Brown (6-14, 0-5 Ivy) on Sunday for probably the most special home match of the season –– Senior Day. This year’s five seniors, Maria Adiaconitei, Sarah Campbell, Valerie Ho, Katherine Nguyen and Pryce have been the epitome of resilience and courage. In their four years at Cornell, not only had they endured the pandemic and canceled seasons, but they also went through three coaching changes within the four years. 

“I think it was a really unique experience, especially for women’s tennis because we’ve had three coaches in our four years along with COVID,” said Ho. “But, I’m so proud of myself and all the other seniors who stuck it out the last four years and we’ve come out to be an even stronger team given all the challenges.” 

The Bears took the lead after winning two of the three doubles matches to secure the doubles point; however, that did not deter the Red, as they ran through the singles, winning four of the five completed matches, giving Cornell a 4-1 win over Brown. 

“I think it was one of the best days of my entire college experience, it was really bittersweet, but we really came together as a team and got the win, which made the day even better,” Ho said. 

With this win, the Red has more Ivy wins than the 2019-2020 team had overall. This can be a testament to the hard work the seniors have put in the past few years to help rebuild this team. 

“It really shows that all of our hard work meant something,” Ho said. 

The women’s team still has a chance to win the Ivy League Championship. In the standings, they are behind Penn and Princeton (4-1) and tied with Harvard and Yale (3-2). They will host Princeton (9-10, 4-1 Ivy) for a chance to rise in the rankings at 2 p.m. on Friday at Reis Tennis before playing their final match of the season against Penn (14-8, 4-1 Ivy) at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Philadelphia. 

“I truly believe that we can go into the weekend and win both matches and hopefully have some upsets and I think it would be one of the most incredible experiences for myself and the whole team if we could win Ivies, especially after the tough years,” Ho said. After a tough couple of years on and off the court, “it’s really great to see our program come full circle and to have the opportunity to actually be an Ivy League champion.”