After notching two losses while on the road during spring break, the SMU men’s tennis team posted a win over No. 75 Cornell University on Thursday.
Thursday’s gloomy weather seemed to level the playing field even more by forcing all the players to deal with gripping cold and strong wind. Cornell’s team took an early lead against SMU in the singles matches, but after the round of first sets, SMU was up 5 to 6.
Except for play in the No. 6 position, the matches were very close. Players on both teams were forced to make creative shots, and the winners ended up being those who were able to hold serve.
An especially heated match took place at No. 1, between SMU’s Peter Oredsson and Cornell’s Brett McKeon. Cornell took an early lead, but Oredsson fought back with a string of great points to close out the first set 7-5.
Oredsson is known for his calmness and maturity on court, which he prominently displayed. In contrast, his opponent was dramatic and vocal, only to the detriment of himself. Oredsson won the match 7-5, 6-3.
McKeon wasn’t the only one being vocal on and off the court. Players from both teams were particularly loud during the match, with frustrated outbursts and celebratory cheers. The Cornell bench was also so unruly as to cause one of Cornell’s fans to comment that the boys were not usually this raucous.
“There’s a little more yellin’ and screamin’ than usual. It must be the cold,” he said.
SMU seemed to ignore the noise and continued to plow over Cornell. At the No. 4 position, Henrik Soderberg battled the weather, a difficult opponent and a head cold. He could be heard coughing and sneezing in between each point. This did not prevent him from taking the match right from underneath Cornell’s nose.
Dan Brous, a 6-foot-5-inch junior, tested Soderberg’s mental and physical capabilities. The Mustang was up to the challenge, however, and defeated Brous in two sets.
Also gaining a win, with a little less challenge, was Olivind Alver at the No. 6 spot. His opponent appeared ill-prepared for what he was to face.
Alver said the match was not difficult for him.
“I played amazing, I didn’t miss. The match wasn’t very tough,” he said.
Cornell’s No. 6 player was brave enough to wear a short sleeve T-shirt and shorts, while the rest of the players packed on the layers in an attempt to keep out the almost freezing temperatures.
Alex Skrypko and Federico Murgier, playing at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, each faced battles of their own. Skrypko faced Cornell’s Joshua Raff, whose outbursts and facial expressions were as entertaining as his shots. Skrypko shut down the theatrics with a 6-4, 6-3 win. Murgier had a tougher battle at No. 3, winning the first set and then barely losing the second 6-7. He did exactly what head coach Carl Neufeld said he needed to do: fight.
“I told the guys it was going to be the one that fought the hardest that won the match. I’m glad to say we fought the hardest in all the matches,” Neufeld said.
Murgier pulled out the match with a 7-6 win in the third set. David Kuczer also went three sets against his Cornell opponent. After losing the first set, Kuczer pulled himself together and rallied back to win the last two sets 6-4, 6-4.
SMU swept the doubles matches as well, winning 7-0 overall. Neufeld was extremely pleased with the performance of his players.
“We’ve been battling health issues for the last four weeks and I think this is the turning point. The Ivy League basically started tennis and has been playing for over 100 years; we beat Columbia, another Ivy team recently,” he said. “I look forward to this weekend when we’ll play two other top teams.”
The SMU men will be on the road this weekend, facing both Baylor and Texas.