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Cornell Freshman brings rankings and experience to the court

Cornell+Freshman+David+Volfson+returns+a+serve+Nov.+29+in+the+Reis+Tennis+Center.+Volson+was+ranked+No.+2+among+incoming+freshman+by+the+Intercollegiate+Tennis+Association.+Copyright+Ithaca+Week+2015
Cornell Freshman David Volfson returns a serve Nov. 29 in the Reis Tennis Center. Volson was ranked No. 2 among incoming freshman by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Copyright Ithaca Week 2015
By Jenny Zdrojeski and Steven Pirani.

Cornell University Men’s Tennis is boasting one of the nation’s most promising recruits this season, with freshman David Volfson coming onto the collegiate scene with an impressive history of professional competition behind him.

Volfson was ranked No. 2 in the nation among incoming freshman tennis players by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and, at the time of writing, also holds a world ranking of 943 from the Association of Tennis Professionals. His tennis career, which began when he was just 4 years old, has taken him across the world to over 50 countries and to countless tournaments.

Now, Volfson has settled in Ithaca, joining Big Red Tennis in the hopes of honing his skills. Cornell Tennis coach, Silviu Tanasoiu, said Volfson isn’t only a huge asset to the team because of his skill on the court, but also because of his drive as an athlete.

“He’s probably one of the hardest working players that I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” Tanasoiu said, “It’s an absolute pleasure to have a chance to work with him. And to have him around the players, he sets a standard that I think is extremely high for everyone else. We’re very fortunate to have him.”

For Volfson, this determination started early in his tennis playing career, two years after he started playing.

“At 6 years old I played my first tournament,” Volfson said, “and just that competitive spirit and that competitive drive came out in me, and I was like, ‘I love to compete, I want to do this every week.’”

Now, competition is a constant of his life. With recent trips to Las Vegas for the ATP Challenger Tour and Montreal for the ATP World Tour, Volfson’s schedule has been packed. However, he is unfazed: Tennis is an essential aspect of his routine, and he said he has no plans on growing bored of it..

“Tennis means the world to me. I don’t know, I can’t imagine a life without it,” Volfson said. “I see myself playing tennis until I’m 80 years old, 90 years old, until I can’t walk anymore. It’s been with me since, like, I was born, and it’s been with me my whole childhood, going through college. I feel like my whole life has been surrounded by tennis.”

Volfson’s teammates can see the effects of his long relationship with the sport, and junior Colin Sinclair says that Volfson’s enthusiasm is infectious.

“How hard he works in practice… that exuberance to be playing tennis, I guess, kind of uplifts everyone around him, and everyone kind of get’s going from that,” Sinclair said.

And while his ranking is something that he is proud of, Volfson said stats are not the primary reason for the effort he puts into practices. Instead, it’s all about honing his craft.

“We’re all focusing on improving, and getting our games better,” he said. “The results will come, and the rankings will be there.”

Volfson also said that, while one day he hopes to be the greatest tennis player in the world, he finds his college athletic career to be important in its own right, and not just as a stepping stone.

“Honestly, my goals are not set so far ahead,” Volfson said. “I’d just like to be playing the best tennis that I can, and after my college career, I’d like to be on the ATP tour.”

Tennis has impacted Volfson’s life beyond his ranking. Competing in tournaments has helped to increase his skill, and also given him valuable skills that he can take off the court.

“I feel like [tennis] has taught me to overcome difficulty,” he said. “A huge part about tennis — I mean you go play tournaments every week, there’s 64 guys, and every week there’s only one winner.”

Tanasoiu said that Volfson’s ambition and his focus on self-improvement are something that coaches love to see in their players.

“It’s a thrill. I think this is what we live for,” Tanasoiu said. “We have an opportunity to work with a student athlete that is so invested, in both his academic work as well as his tennis, at the highest level. We’re working with elite. He’s an elite warrior.”

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