Only two weeks into the new season, things are beginning to take shape for the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Both squads competed in the ECAC/Ivy Challenge over the weekend, with the men taking two of their three matches and the women picking up one victory in three tries.
In New Haven, Conn., the men’s team took on St. John’s, Columbia and Princeton, while the women faced off against BU, Columbia and host Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.
On the men’s side the results were encouraging, as the team picked up a shutout, 7-0, in its first match against St. John’s.
“They care and they practice hard,” said head coach David Geatz when asked to identify the greatest contribution to the team’s win.
The Red claimed victories in eight of the nine matches the teams played. Juniors Andy Gauthier, Jon Jaklitsch and Jeremy Feldman and sophomore Evan Bernstein all won their singles matches in straight sets over their Red Storm opponents. Senior Jon Fife pulled out a three-set victory, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, while junior Mirza Klis also held on for a close win, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
In the doubles competition, the results were not all that different, as the Red pulled out victories from the Gauthier/Feldman duo and the Klis/Jaklitsch pairing. Gauthier and Feldman defeated the St. John’s team of Hauk/Bojic, 8-3, while Klis and Jaklitsch had a bit more difficulty in their win over the Lampa/Cerny duo, holding on for a 9-8 (7-2) tiebreaker victory. Fife and Bernstein’s doubles loss marked the only win for St. John’s on the afternoon.
Despite its best effort, the Red could not hold off No. 1 seed Columbia, falling to the Lions on Sunday afternoon, 5-2. Even though the Red could not pull out a victory, Geatz was very pleased with how the team played and remained confident in its ability to beat the Lions in the next go around at the Reis Tennis Center.
“We had Columbia on the ropes … and we should have won the match. I think [the next match] against them is going to be for the Ivy League title,” Geatz said.
The particulars of the Red’s bout with Ancient Eight foe Columbia included a singles win by Fife, 6-2, 6-3, and doubles victories from the Jaklitsch/Klis and Gauthier/Feldman pairings, both by a final score of 8-5.
The Red wrapped up the weekend in New Haven with a shutout of Ivy foe Princeton, 7-0, yesterday afternoon. Cornell claimed victories in eight of the nine events –– as it did against St. John’s –– with the exception being a doubles loss by the No. 1 pairing of Gauthier and Feldman. Senior Ashish Bhandari joined Gauthier, Feldman, Jaklitsch, Klis and Bernstein in the winner’s circle with a three-set, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, victory over his Tigers opponent.
After observing this weekend’s performance –– and judging it as a whole –– Geatz was pleased with the team’s overall effort and is still confident in the Red’s ability to compete for a championship.
“The men’s team is going to be right in the mix for an Ivy title,” Geatz added.
The story was slightly different for the women’s team, which lost its first two matches to local teams Harvard and BU, both by 6-1 finals.
Junior Ruxandra Dumitrescu played a part in the Red’s only victories on the afternoon against the Crimson, winning her singles match, 4-6, 6-2, 11-9, and sharing an 8-3 doubles victory with freshman partner Kristin Lim.
More of the same difficulties plagued the Red later on against BU, when the team failed to win any of its singles matches. In the doubles competition, seniors Susan Sullivan and Natalia Sanchez came out on top, 9-7, against the Terriers’ top pairing. The Dumitrescu/Lim duo also picked up another win, defeating BU’s Santini/Linero.
Despite the team’s two losses Geatz remained confident that the women’s squad has the ability to compete on this level.
“The culture is changing a little bit; they compete very hard,” Geatz said.
The Red’s hard work paid off on Sunday when the women held on for a 3-1 victory over Columbia, taking three of the four singles matches and taking the only doubles game.
Winners included Lim, Sullivan and freshman Sarah O’Neil, who picked up a win in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 5-0, when her opponent retired. Dumitrescu picked up yet another win, taking the lone doubles match, 8-4, alongside her partner Sanchez.
“We’re not ready to win the Ivy championship yet … we’re one year away from becoming a real contender,” Geatz said.
Both teams return to action this weekend when the men host Buffalo and Fairleigh Dickenson, and the women take on Binghamton and Rutgers at the Reis Tennis Center.