In the spring of 1980, the Ivy League honored Princeton as the league’s first ever women’s tennis champions. For thirty years since then, the Ivy League has awarded the women’s tennis championship to the team with the best record at the end of the season, and in all thirty years, Cornell’s team has come up empty-handed. Fortunately for this season’s women’s tennis squad, history doesn’t necessarily have to repeat itself.“Up until this year [an Ivy League title] has been out of reach,” said junior captain Ruxandra Dumitrescu. “Now, however, our team is extremely deep. We are pretty much all equal in a sense, but we all have our own strengths. Because we have such depth and because everyone is very similar, I think we have a chance.” Cornell’s search for that elusive first-ever Ivy League championship will begin this afternoon, when it travels to New York City for a match against Columbia. The contest, which is set to begin at 2:00 p.m., will square the Red against the Tigers for the second time this season. Cornell defeated Columbia, 3-1, on the final day of play at the 2010 ECAC Division I Indoor Tennis Championship back in February, and the Red will be in search of a similar result this afternoon. “We’ve beaten Columbia over the past few years, so I think that it’s a good match to start with, but it’s not going to be as easy and as simple as it usually is,” Dumitrescu said. “We won [in February], but we also saw that they were good players.” Freshmen Kristin Lim and Sarah O’Neil and senior captain Susan Sullivan led the way for Cornell (10-5, 0-0 Ivy) in the first matchup between the two Ivy League foes, earning victories in No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 singles, respectively. Dumitrescu and senior Natalia Sanchez paired up to win the only doubles match played between the two squads. The Tigers’ (9-7, 0-0 Ivy) lone victory came in No. 1 singles, when Nicole Bartnik defeated freshman Christine Ordway in straight sets. Today’s match will be slightly different from the previous meeting between these two teams, as the match in February featured a modified format consisting of just three singles matches and one doubles match. With both teams at full strength for today’s contest, the match could go either way. For instance, a week after losing to Cornell at the Indoor Tennis Championship, Columbia beat the same University of Buffalo team that topped the Red back on February 6th. In addition, Cornell’s current roster consists of five freshmen, none of which have ever played an Ivy League match. Nevertheless, Dumitrescu believes that the Red’s most recent string of success has been enough to prepare the team’s youngest players for the matches ahead. “I think after last week we definitely are ready [to begin Ivy League play],” Dumitrescu said. “I think now, with a lot of wins in our belt and with a winning record [the freshmen] are not so nervous because they know what to expect.” Cornell enters today’s meeting with Columbia on the heels of a six-match winning streak, including a perfect 4-0 record over its Spring Break visit to Fla. last week. After facing the Tigers this afternoon, the Red will be back in action next Friday when it takes on Dartmouth (11-1, 0-0 Ivy) in Hanover, N.H., at 2:00 p.m.
Original Author: Dan Froats