Entering the spring season, many thought the men's tennis team (16-1, 3-0 Ivy) would be in contention for the league title, but it's now becoming clear that its ceiling could be even higher. After one of the most memorable weekends for the Lions in years, they have climbed to No. 17 in the nation, matching the program's highest-ever ranking, last reached in 1987.
“That was a great team. A lot of the guys on that team went on to play on the tour,” head coach Bid Goswami said of the 1987 team.
Although Goswami had a lot of praise for that 1987 team, he didn't shy away from asserting that this year's team compares favorably.
“I'm happy to see them get the recognition. We also have a good group now. I think this is one of the best in program history. I've been saying it ever since these guys were freshmen,” he said, referring to the junior class.
The Light Blue takes on Ivy foes Brown and Yale this weekend. Although neither team is ranked and the Lions failed to drop a single point against the next-highest-ranked teams in the Ivies, Goswami is still not taking anything for granted.
“I remember two years ago, we'd beaten Harvard at home and then went in and lost to Yale and Brown,” he said. “We recovered the next week, but the damage was done, and Harvard ended up beating us for the Ivy championship.”
However, that was a different team. According to Goswami, that week was a rough patch for the Lions, who were missing then-rookie Bert Vancura due to pneumonia. And given that Columbia didn't lose a single match to Harvard or Dartmouth last weekend, it will be very difficult for the Bears or the Bulldogs to pull off an upset this time around.
“We have a lot more depth now, and also my greatest generation is two years older, so they have two more years of experience. That helps. Overall, I think we are a better team now than we were two years ago,” Goswami said. “It's a very solid team. I've said it before, we could lose, but only if someone else is playing really well. It's happened before, but I think the players will bring each other through this.”
Matches start Saturday in Providence, R.I., and Sunday in New Haven, Conn., at 1 p.m.