While spectators enjoyed a free food truck and Cornell tennis merchandise among other senior day fanfare, No. 40 men’s tennis (17-5, 4-2 Ivy) got down to business, looking to finish its home season strong against Brown (13-16, 0-6 Ivy) and Yale (10-12, 1-5 Ivy) over the weekend.
Much of the attention was on senior Vladislav Melnic, who finished off a Cornell career that included a deep NCAA tournament run. Nevertheless, Cornell still needed to take care of business as a team in a home series with major implications for the Ivy League standings.
On Saturday, the Red faced off against Brown. The Bears came in as the last-place team in a very strong Ivy League, but couldn’t be overlooked, especially as Cornell was without sophomore No. 77 Radu Papoe, who has been the team’s strongest singles player this season.
Papoe’s absence also shook up the struggling Cornell doubles lineup, who faced off against a strong platoon from Brown. Junior Samuel Paquette and freshman Petar Teodorovic, who have struggled significantly at third doubles this season, took their match, 6-3, before Brown tied the contest with a win at No. 1. The match at second doubles was never finished, leading to neither team being awarded the doubles point.
Entering singles with a clean slate, Cornell’s superiority was apparent. Every player had to play one slot higher in the lineup than usual without Papoe to hold down No. 1, and most responded accordingly.
Teodorovic, Paquette, sophomore Adit Sinha and freshman Aman Sharma cruised, taking their matches in straight sets. Melnic’s match went down the wire, but he ultimately lost a tight three setter in a tiebreak. Following a retirement from sophomore Nathan Mao, Cornell took the match, 4-2.
Saturday’s victory over Brown made Sunday’s match crucial — a win, and Cornell could finish no worse than fourth in the Ivy League. Papoe was once again absent in doubles, but his teammates picked up the slack.
Mao and Sinha won a tight first doubles matchup in a tiebreak, before Melnic and Sharma fell at No. 3. Second doubles was a nail biter, with Teodorovic and Paquette falling behind early before battling back to force a tiebreak.
The tiebreaker system — which incentivizes consistent play and aggressive serving — favored Cornell. The Red came out on top, taking the doubles point.
Using the momentum from doubles and running with it, the Red’s singles was nothing short of dominant. Every Cornell athlete won their first set, and after quick second set victories by Mao, Teodorovic and Melnic, the match was mathematically clinched in Cornell’s favor.
The teams elected to play out the rest of the matches, and following a retirement by Paquette, Sinha and Papoe made short work of their opponents to end the match, 6-1.
Much of the weekend was about Melnic, who finished his home career strong despite a disappointing season. The Romanian is a beloved figure throughout the Cornell tennis community, and has been hugely impactful in the team’s success over recent years. After his time at Cornell, Melnic hopes to pursue a career in consulting, finance or real estate.
The team will wrap up its regular season with a marquee away matchup against No. 13 Columbia (14-8, 4-3 Ivy) next Saturday, April 29 at 1 p.m.