With two weeks of rest since its last match during spring break against the University of California, Santa Barbara, the men’s tennis team (10-9 overall, 0-0 Ivy League) is getting ready to start its Ivy League play this weekend. Princeton will be looking to improve upon last year’s 2-5 season, when the team earned a sixth-place finish.
This weekend, the Tigers will play two tough opponents as they travel to Cornell (15-3, 0-1) on Friday for a 2 p.m. match and come home to face Columbia (12-3, 1-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both of these teams are ranked in the Top 25 of the ITA Division I Collegiate Rankings, ranked at No. 24 and No. 22 respectively; the teams are the only Ivy League teams to have this honor at this point in the season. Each team also has a marquee win: then-No. 7 Oklahoma for the Big Red and current No. 9 TCU for the Lions.
When Princeton travels to Ithaca on Friday, both Princeton and Cornell will be looking for their first Ivy League win of the season; while the Tigers will look to get their season off to the right start, the Big Red will look to put last week’s loss to Columbia behind them. Cornell has been unbeatable at home so far this season, going 7-0. In addition, two of its three losses so far this season have come against the Lions.
The Big Red is led by David Volfson, who came into the spring season ranked just outside of the Top 100. He was last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and he is also the lone returning First-Team All-Ivy selection. Chris Vrabel is another strong player for Cornell and will be feeling confident after having won the ITA Northeast Regional singles championship. Most likely it’ll be up to senior Tom Colautti, a Second-Team All-Ivy selection last year, to face Volfson, and for junior Luke Gamble, another Second-Team All-Ivy selection, to face Vrabel.
Gamble is a senior opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’
In addition, when Columbia comes to the Cordish Family Pavilion and Lenz Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon, watch out for Shawn Hadavi and Victor Pham, ranked No. 55 and No. 113 at the end of the fall season. The Lions also have strong doubles players who achieved an all-Columbia final at the ITA Northeast Regional doubles final. This strong pair should create an exciting matchup against the nation’s No. 25 doubles team in Princeton’s Gamble and senior Alex Day.
The Lions began their hunt for their fourth straight Ivy League title well, with a 4-1 win over the Big Red. The team will also face Penn (13-6, 0-0) on Friday before traveling to Princeton.
The Tigers will sure to be tested in this first weekend of Ivy League play against what seem to be the Ancient Eight’s top two teams, based on their successes prior to conference play.