Cornell’s slate was full of tennis this past weekend, as the men were toppled by Penn State 6-1 on Saturday, while the women fought their way to two victories – a 6-1 thrashing of Quinnipiac, followed by a close 4-3 triumph over UMass Sunday morning.
After several weeks of waiting for matches to start, the women’s team gathered Friday night at the house of head coach Laura Glitz.
“We all had dinner the night before our first match, and discussed our goals for the season and how we were going to support each other and feed off each other this year,” freshman Elizabeth Googe said. “It’s nice knowing that everyone on this team contributes equally.”
Saturday the Red displayed this team concept, as the team unleashed on Quinnipiac. The Red suffered only one defeat in singles, as Catherine Duboc fell to Jackie Visinski, 6-4, 1-6, 10-8.
“I definitely should have won that one,” said Duboc, who played out of the fourth singles slot. “I need to work on setting the pace of the game, instead of giving in to the pace my opponent wants to play at.”
The other five singles matches were all won in straight sets. Junior Kasia Preneta only lost one game on her way to victory while teammate, senior Mollie Edinson, followed her lead, conceding only three games. In fact, none of the victorious singles players lost more than five games, in an impressive display of the Red’s team depth.
“We just have so many people that can fill in for each other,” Glitz said. “[Junior] Nisha [Suda] couldn’t make it Saturday, and so [sophomore] Dana [Cruite] stepped in nicely. We also have a lot of freshmen on this team, and I think they really stepped up this weekend. Often it takes a long time for freshmen to get acclimated to college tennis, and these guys have just stepped right in.”
It was this depth and balance that brought the Red to victory Sunday over UMass. With losses by the first doubles team, Edinson and freshman Shayna Miller, and first and second singles, Edinson and Pereneta, the bottom four singles toughed out victories along with the second and third doubles teams.
“Mollie and Shayna just didn’t play as well as they are capable of, like they did in the Winter Invitational,” Glitz said. “It was just one of those weekends for them. Also, UMass was a team that was very top heavy, they had very good players out of the top couple slots, but not much depth.”
Glitz maintains that the team is by no means playing to its full capabilities.
“We definitely got off to a good start, but we are going to work on our aggressiveness in both doubles and singles,” Glitz said. “We need to practice looking for our opportunities and putting the ball away.”
While the women had success, the men’s team struggled to find consistency, losing to Penn State.
As the yellow ball streaked low over the net to Penn State territory, junior Bradley Hunter, signaled in, while his partner, junior Ryan Berger, vigorously gestured that it was out. After the Red had split the first and second doubles, the third doubles turned out to be the determiner of the doubles point. With the scoreboard showing a 5-5 score in the tie-breaker, the official standing on the other side of the court, seeing the confusion, quickly made an executive decision: out.
“The ref isn’t going to over turn that call, even though I felt he was too far away to make that call,” said head coach Berry Schoonmaker. “The guy closest to the ball called it in, but obviously it wasn’t the determining factor in the match at all. It did change the complexion of the match, though. Once Penn State got that point, they started playing with more confidence.”
The No. 61 Nittany Lions went on to take the tie-breaker 8-6 and the third doubles match 9-8, giving them the doubles point. From there, they went on to take all but one of the six singles matches from the 73rd ranked Red.
“That’s tough for us when we’re going up against a Big 10 school with full scholarships and we’re the underdog, even though our last five matches against them have ended 4-3,” Scoonmaker said. “The match was a real kick to the piece, though, because we expected to come out, compete and win. I was really stunned. I don’t feel like they are more experienced than us or better than us, but they surely flat out played better on Saturday.”
While Schoonmaker considered the match a step back for the team, he sees no reason to change anything.
“I felt like last week’s practices were great, I thought we were prepared,” Schoonmaker said. “Whatever we had against Old Dominion, we have to find that again. We have to find that extra juice, and play with more energy and conviction, finishing off matches. I think in practice we might start playing more competitive points instead of drills, footwork and endurance. This way, there’s something at stake, which might help us out.”
The lone bright spot for the Red was junior Dan Brous, who won both his singles match, 7-6, 6-4, and his doubles match with junior Charn Bak, 8-5. Schoonmaker was pleased to see Brous finish off both his matches, something he couldn’t accomplish in close matches earlier this year against Old Dominion and VCU.
“Dan didn’t play great, but he just competed,” Schoonmaker said. “This weekend was big for him. He missed that chance to finish off his opponent at Old Dominion before the match was called, and he faded at the end against VCU after a good start.”
“I didn’t feel like I did anything different,” Brous said. “Things just finally clicked and I came through on the tough points. Overall, though, we’re just trying to forget this weekend and get our morale back up. There are not many positives we can take away, but we just have to look ahead because we have two tough matches next weekend against Western Michigan and Army.”
Archived article by Cory Bennett
Sun Staff Writer