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Cornell Falls to Louisville in NCAA Men's Tennis Championships First Round

Cornell's Evan Bernstein
Cornell's Evan Bernstein

Courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Cornell men's tennis team gave Louisville everything it could handle, but ultimately came up on the short end of a 4-0 decision in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships on the campus of the University of Kentucky.

In a match that was delayed for an hour by rain before ultimately being moved indoors, the Big Red put up a strong showing, sending two of the singles matches to three sets and having a third decided by a tiebreaker. Ultimately, though, the Cardinals took the doubles point and scored wins at No. 2, 3 and 4 in the singles lineup to clinch the team victory.

Cornell had strong individual showings at No. 1 and No. 5, as Andy Gauthier and Evan Bernstein both sent their matches to a third set on the day. After dropping the first set, Gauthier battled back with a 6-3 win in the second set and was leading the third, 4-3, when the match was clinched with the Cardinals' victory at No. 2.

At the fifth spot in the order, Bernstein similarly dropped his first set, falling by a 6-3 margin, but rallied to claim the second, by the same score. He was behind, 3-2, in the third set when the match concluded.

The day began with the doubles matches outdoors, and the Big Red jumped out early at No. 1 and No. 3, but Louisville quickly regained momentum at 3. Despite Cornell taking the first two games, the Cardinal tandem of Austen Childs and Adam Donaldson rallied for an 8-3 win at No. 3. At No. 2, the team of Alejandro Callgari and Robert Hall scored an 8-2 win, making the back-and-forth battle at No. 1 between Cornell's Jonathan Jaklitsch and Bernstein unnecessary, with the Big Red trailing, 7-6, in that match.

As singles play began, the Big Red began the match shorthanded, as the third man in the lineup, Mirza Klis, was scratched. NCAA rules dictate that each player below in the order must move up a spot, and the replacement - Zhongming Chen - came into the lineup at the six spot in the order. 

Cornell's first two spots, Gauthier and Jaklitsch, both were even in the opening set of their singles matches, while the lower four spots needed time to adjust to the higher spot in the order. Gauthier fell in his first set, 6-4, and Jaklitsch by a 6-3 margin, while only Bernstein could muster up three points in his first-set loss. Both Venkat Iyer and Jeremy Feldman fell by 6-2 scores, and Chen dropped his first set, 6-0.

Shortly after the second set began across the board, the rains came, forcing play to be halted for just over an hour. Thunder in the area then sent the two teams inside for the remainder of the match, and Cornell began to take control. The Big Red won the first set at the first through third spots in the order, as only the top four played due to a lack of indoor court space. 

Iyer was the first to drop his singles match, falling by a 6-3 score in the second set. With the court now open, Bernstein took to the court and promptly finished off his second set, scoring a quick 6-3 victory to force that match to three sets. Meanwhile, over on court one, Gauthier was battling hard against the nation's 16th ranked player, Austen Childs, defeating him by a 6-4 score in the second set to send that match to three.

Unfortunately, over on court four at No. 4, Feldman went down against Robert Hall, falling by a 6-3 margin in the second set to give Louisville a 3-0 team lead. And on court two, Jaklitsch forced his opponent, Viktor Maksimcuk, ranked 93rd in the country, into a tiebreaker in the second set, but Maksimcuk scored a 7-2 tiebreaker win to claim a 7-6 win and clinch the match for the Cardinals.

The loss concludes the best season in Cornell history with a 26-5 overall record. The Big Red finished with a perfect 7-0 record in Ivy League play and captured the program's first Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament appearance.

Louisville advances to the second round, where the Cardinals will face either 10th seeded Kentucky or Cleveland State on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Lexington, Ky.

2011 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center, Lexington, Ky.
First Round - Match 1

No. 24 Louisville 4, No. 42 Cornell 0
Doubles Competition:
1.) No. 45 Simon Childs/Viktor Maksimcuk (UL) led Jonathan Jaklitsch/Evan Bernstein (CU) 7-6 (DNF)
2.) Alejandro Calligari/Robert Hall (UL) def. Andy Gauthier/Jeremy Feldman (CU) 8-2
3.) Austen Childs/Adam Donaldson (UL) def. Mirza Klis/Evan McElwain> (CU) 8-3

Singles Competition:
1. Andy Gauthier (CU) led No. 16 Austen Childs (UL) 4-6, 6-3, 4-3 (DNF)
2. No. 93 Viktor Maksimcuk (UL) def. Jonathan Jaklitsch (CU) 6-3, 7-6 (2)
3.) No. 125 Simon Childs (UL) def. Venkat Iyer (CU) 6-2, 6-3
4.) Robert Hall (UL) def. Jeremy Feldman (CU) 6-2, 6-3
5.) Alejandro Calligari (UL) led Evan Bernstein (CU) 6-3, 3-6, 3-2 (DNF)
6.) Andrew Carter (UL) led Zhongming Chen (CU) 6-0, 1-0 (DNF)

Order of finish:
Doubles: 2, 3*
Singles: 3, 4, 2*