GAME, SET, MATCH, VICTORY!
With a dramatic 4-3 win this past Friday, Cornell’s women’s tennis team defeated the arch-rival Syracuse Orangemen for the first time in 26 years.
While Syracuse has dominated the series, Cornell had closed the gap on a once far superior Orangemen squad in recent years.
“The last two years, we’ve lost two really heartbreaking matches to Syracuse,” noted Angela Rudert. “They were the highlight of our weekend, and we knew we could play with them.”
However, early in the competition, the outlook was bleak once again, as Syracuse jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on the strength of wins in two of the three doubles matches. The number-three team of senior Ngozi Amobi and sophomore Piper Lucas salvaged the sole victory for the team in the doubles portion.
Stuck in an early hole, the Big Red crawled its way out in the singles competition. In a hard fought but convincing victory, top-seeded sophomore Suzanne Wright defeated Michelle Neveklovska in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.
Yet, right when the Big Red pulled even, Syracuse won the second and third flight singles matches to take a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 advantage. Zuzanna Borucka defeated second-seeded sophomore Daniela DelPrete in a closely contested match 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, and Masha Kabanoya edged Amobi 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
However, presented with this adversity, the team played its best tennis of the day, winning the final three singles matches. Fourth-ranked freshman Laura Leigh Tallant started the comeback with a thrilling three set victory over Shervin Saedinia 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Riding this new wave of momentum, fifth-seeded sophomore Nicole Chiu annihilated Katie Thompson in a dominant 6-2, 6-0 performance, pulling the Red even with the Orangemen. With the score at 3-3, and the pressure on her shoulders, Cornell freshman Kate Sternberg cruised to an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory in the sixth flight against Zani Shttle, sealing the victory for the team.
The team’s outstanding performance had the coach beaming.
“I was really happy with how we played. We were without our number-three player who’s out with illness, but our young players really stepped up,” head coach Angela Rudert said.
After the thrilling victory on Friday, Cornell could not afford any letdowns over the weekend, as the team faced a tough University of Massachusetts team.
“We knew going into the match against UMass that we had the ability to beat them 7-0. But we also knew that if we weren’t ready to play, they could give us some serious problems,” Rudert said.
Fortunately for the Red, the team had no such letdown and soundly dispatched the Minutemen by a resounding 7-0 score. Of the nine matches, only two went to three sets. Second-seeded Daniela DelPrete struggled to win her match 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 and Sternberg came back to win hers by a score of 5-7, 6-2, 7-4 in the fifth flight.
In the second half of its doubleheader on Saturday, the Big Red played the overmatched team of Maryland-Baltimore County. Once again, Cornell controlled the action, winning by a final margin of 7-0.
The Big Red earned the first team point by sweeping the three doubles matches. The pairs of Wright and Sternberg, and Tallant and Chiu, blasted the opponents with 8-1 wins. Meanwhile, the team of Alex and Daniela DelPrete swept through Marie Ongseng and Amy Weissberg with an 8-3 triumph.
After the impressive Saturday performance, the coach was tremendously pleased with the team’s mental preparedness.
“What’s good about the team is that we haven’t let up this year against weaker opponents. We’ve gone into all of our matches prepared, and the team has been excited in the easier matches too,” Rudert said. “The win over Syracuse really gave us momentum in the matches today against UMass and Baltimore.”
Capping a successful weekend of play, the women won their fourth match of the week with a convincing 7-0 victory over Binghamton. Cornell pounced on Binghamton early, winning the first team point with 3 wins in the doubles matches.
The Big Red then proceeded to win the first four singles matches in straight sets before number-five Sternberg retired her opponent. Closing play on the weekend, number-six junior Saloni Kantaria fought back from a set down to finish off the sweep with a 4-6, 6-3 (10-6) win.
With the four wins this weekend, Cornell improved its record to 6-0, and has generally dominated opponents.
“We haven’t had any problems preparing for our opponents. Even if we’re facing a weaker team, we’ve played well and our scores reflect it. Except for the Syracuse match, we’ve won all of our other matches 7-0,” Rudert commented.
Certainly with an undefeated squad, there have been some standout performers.
“Everyone on the team has played really well. Laura Leigh Tallant has won 12 straight overall, and is 10-0 this spring. She’s 16-2 this year. Our number-one player Suzanne Wright has a superb record at 9-1 this spring while playing against the toughest opponents. Finally, Nicole Chiu is 6-0 this spring in singles,” described the coach.
The team will put its undefeated record on the line this coming weekend, as it travels to Penn State for a showdown with the Nittany Lions, followed by a meeting with Eastern Michigan.
The Big Red men were also in action this weekend. It swept St. Bonaventure, 7-0, yesterday and improved the squad’s record to 4-0 on the season.
The Red won the doubles point thanks to victories by senior Mike Halperin and junior Stefan Paulovic at number-one and sophomore Mike Mestel and freshman Zach Gallin in the third-slot.
The Red then proceeded to sweep the singles matches in straight sets, led by Halperin at the top-spot. Paulovic won at number-two, Gallin was victorious in the third-slot. Chris Lewis, freshman Scott Paltrowitz and freshman Julian Cheng won the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively.
The men will next be in action on Saturday when it hosts Colgate.
Archived article by Alex Ip