January 27, 2005

Women's Tennis Hosts Cornell Invitational

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The women’s tennis team seemed to have no trouble adjusting to a new coaching staff this past fall. Under head coach Laura Glitz, Cornell players emerged victorious in nearly two-thirds of their matches, with many players reaching the later tournament rounds. However, the Red’s fall success will have very little bearing on the upcoming spring season, as the schedule includes matches against tough Ivy League and non-conference competition. The Red’s first test will come this weekend when it hosts the annual Cornell Invitational at the indoor courts of the Reis Tennis Center.

The meet will be the last individual tournament on the schedule for the Red, and it will serve as an important determinant of the team’s lineup for the remainder of the season.

There will be four flights of singles matches and two flights of doubles, as Columbia, UMBC, Binghmaton, Bucknell, and Army will all be in attendance. The meetings with Columbia’s top players will provide the Red a preview of what it can expect out of its rival when the two teams faceoff later this spring.

The matches will also provide the Red with a much needed tune-up, as the team has been on hiatus for months. The last time the Red took the court was in late October in Philadelphia, Pa., at the ITA Regional Tournament. Senior Akane Kokubu was the last Red player standing that weekend. She fell in the quarterfinals to Harvard’s Elsa O’ Riain.

“We actually just started practicing this week but they have all been hitting over break,” Glitz said. “I think we are definitely ready. Everyone is anxious to get the season rolling.”

Cornell is led by the senior trio of co-captains Erika Takeuchi and Kokubo and Melissa Tu. Takeuchi posted a 5-4 singles record in the fall, with wins over top players from both top-ranked Kansas and Washington. She continues to rely on consistent returns and volleys to control points and will be placed near the top of the lineup in both singles and doubles this spring.

Kokubo is a power player who employs hard ground strokes to set up her finishing shots at net. Last fall, Kokubo won the A flight singles draw at the Cornell Fall Invitational and placed fifth at the Maryland Invitational. She also knocked off the top seed from Michigan at the Women’s College Tennis Invitational. Kokubo will be placed at the top of the Red lineup in both singles and doubles.

Tu relies on hard ground strokes and a monster serve, which helped her produce a 4-4 fall record in singles play. Tu captured victories at the Women’s College Tennis Invitational over players from American, West Virginia, and the Jayhawks. This spring, Tu is slotted as the No. 5/6 singles player.

“Hopefully we can get some good wins and build some confidence,” Glitz said. “That is all I am hoping for.”

Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer