The men’s tennis team pulled off an inspiring victory Saturday by defeating conference foe Stevens Institute of Technology 5–4. The match, held indoors at the Reis Tennis Center at Cornell University, came down to the final pairing where senior Danny Wolk narrowly won in three sets.
The Bombers lost third doubles to begin the match but quickly rebounded when sophomore Jimmy Newton and Wolk won second doubles 8–6 to even the score at 1–1. The nationally ranked tandem of junior Josh Rifkin and senior Taylor Borda continued the momentum winning 9–7 to give the Blue and Gold a 2–1 lead heading into singles play.
Stevens won the first three singles matches to earn a convincing 4–2 lead. The South Hill squad needed to win its final three matches.
“If I’ve got three guys and we need all three matches, you’re going to look to your leadership,” Head Coach Bill Austin said. “You’ve got two seniors and a junior out there. Those guys have been through it, they understand it and they’ve seen it over and over again. They just weren’t going to go down.”
Borda lost the first set of his match 5–7 but rebounded to win the final two sets. In the third set, Borda trailed 5–2 in the tiebreaker and came back to win 9–7, giving the Bombers the momentum they needed.
Rifkin followed suit shortly thereafter winning in three sets 7–5, 4–6, 6–3.
With the overall match score tied at 4–4, Wolk clinched the victory for the Bombers at the No. 4 singles position 6–4, 2–6, 6–3.
Borda, Wolk and Rifkin came through in the clutch for the Bombers, earning their seventh consecutive dual match victory.
“All the matches were battles and to come out on top is huge,” Rifkin said. “[Stevens was] on a 10-match win streak coming in. To come out with a win feels real good especially going into the E8 tournaments.”
Ithaca and Stevens are the perennial powerhouses of men’s tennis in the Empire 8, as the two schools have met up in the conference championship match in back-to-back seasons.
“We stepped up to the occasion,” Newton said. “We will meet up with them again in the postseason.”
The Bombers return to action at 4 p.m. Thursday against Hartwick College on the Ithaca College Tennis Courts.