As four of Cornell’s strongest netters bid farewell to Cornell tennis after graduation, several up-and-coming leaders for the Red spent their summers preparing themselves to fill the expertise gap left by the May departures.
Co-captains senior Weston Nichols and junior Kyle Doppelt, competed in summer tournaments all over the globe, while junior Josh Goldstein played in Midwestern tournaments. They were among several Red players who found ways to compete over the summer.
Doppelt traveled abroad to Germany where he played in several semi-professional tournaments.
“[Playing in Germany was] an amazing experience and I learned some new drills which I brought back for the team,” Doppelt said.
Nichols played closer to his hometown of Great Falls, Va., picking up titles from tournaments in Indiana and North Carolina. Nichols paired up with childhood friend Erin Clarke for mixed doubles play in the Indiana tournament — the largest summer collegiate tournament in the country — and picked up a title. He grabbed two more titles playing with Chris Peek of Charleston-Southern University at the UNC-Chapel Hill summer tournament.
Because of their natural talent work ethic, head coach Barry Schoonmaker is confident that this year’s upperclassmen — which includes Nichols, Doppelt and junior Joshua Goldstein — can step up to provide the team with a deep reserve of leadership. Nichols also pointed to another leader — his housemate junior Marc Asch. Nichols explained that Asch has already helped shoulder the captain’s responsibilities.
Asch — who suffered what Schoonmaker described as a lot of bad luck including back surgery, a bout of mono, and a ball to the eye — will be expected to contribute as much on the court as off it, too.
The Red will also benefit from the influx of a large and skilled freshmen class. This year’s freshmen are Mirza Alis, Brandon Smyth, Jonathon Jaklitsch, Andy Gaulthier, and Jeremy Feldman.
“They are really motivated and have been working really hard,” Doppelt said.
He likened this year’s group of recruits to his class of netters who — with five juniors on the 2007-2008 team — are equally numerous.
While official practices do not begin until Sept. 7, captain’s practices started Aug. 20 as the Red get ready for a short schedule. According to Doppelt, the players have generally recovered their bearings quickly since returning to East Hill.
“Some guys are working their ways back in, and even though some have had more trouble than others it has generally been a smooth transition,” he said.
The Red begins its schedule at home on Sept. 14 with an Outdoor Invitational. The tournament will mark the beginning of the Red’s march toward Ivy competition. The Ivy League remains one of the strongest tennis leagues in the country. When asked if the Red could still play up to the level of its conference opponents despite the loss of four seniors, Schoonmaker said, “I know we can compete with anybody.”