The men’s tennis team swept Alfred University 9–0 yesterday at the Reis Tennis Center at Cornell University. The victory extended Ithaca’s Empire 8 regular season winning streak to an unprecedented 17 matches stretching back to 2008.
The Bombers, currently ranked 16th in the Northeast region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, didn’t drop a single set in the match for the third time this season against a conference foe.
Sophomore Jimmy Newton and senior Danny Wolk set the tone early at second doubles winning their match 8–2. The nationally ranked doubles tandem comprised of senior Taylor Borda and junior Josh Rifkin followed suit shortly thereafter winning 8–2 at first doubles.
The Blue and Gold have relied on stellar doubles play all season long as the first two doubles teams are undefeated so far in conference play.
“We always like to get a good start out [of] the gate with doubles,” Borda said.
In singles play, Rifkin was off the court first after defeating his opponent 6–0, 6–0. Newton won at third singles 6–2, 6–2 securing the overall team match victory. Perhaps the closest match of the day occurred at second singles where Borda narrowly edged his opponent in the first set tiebreaker 7–6 (7–5) before a convincing 6–1 win in the second set.
With only two matches remaining on the regular season schedule, the Bombers will use these final few days to fine tune their skills.
“We’re focusing on the next few matches over the next week or so and once conference play concludes, we’ll really start to practice and gear up and look forward to E8s,” Borda said.
At the beginning of the season, the squad set its sights high by hoping to go undefeated in conference. Currently standing at 6–0 in conference, the Bombers are well on their way to achieving that goal for a second consecutive season.
“Going undefeated in E8s would be a great thing for the team,” Rifkin said. “[Winning the conference championship] would be the capstone for the season, which would just make it that much better.”
With the victory, the Bombers clinched a berth in the Empire 8 Championship tournament held at Stevens Institute of Technology on May 8 and 9.
“We always try to set our standards pretty high,” Head Coach Bill Austin said. “We’ve got a good team. We’ve got an experienced team. You always have your sights set on trying to repeat.”
The South Hill squad returns to action at 4 p.m. tomorrow when it travels to Rochester, N.Y., to take on St. John Fisher College.