Cornell topped Harvard in its second match of the weekend.

Adrian Boteanu | Sun Staff Photographer

Cornell topped Harvard in its second match of the weekend.

April 17, 2017

With Senior Weekend Split, Women’s Tennis Heading Into Final Stretch for Title

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On senior weekend at the Reis Tennis Center, Cornell women’s tennis split two matches in its final games at home. The Red fell to Dartmouth, 4-3, on Saturday, and then handed Harvard its first defeat in Ivy League play with a 4-3 victory the next day.

Against the Green, Cornell (13-6, Ivy 3-2) was aided by the doubles team of juniors Madison Stevens and Lizzie Stewart, who won the deciding doubles match, giving the home team an early edge.

However, only Stewart and sophomore Mariko Linuma were able to pull out their singles matches, and Dartmouth was able to come out of Ithaca with an important Ivy League victory. While the team was not able to win the match, all of the women battled hard, as three of the four singles’ losses went to three sets.

The Red was able to redeem itself by beating the previously undefeated Harvard.

“It was definitely a tough match against Dartmouth, but I am really proud of our team because I think that we did a great job bouncing back the next day to beat Harvard, who was in first place in the Ivy League,” said senior Marika Cusick

The Red fell behind early — losing the doubles portion of the match — but Cornell won four of the six singles matches to take the contest. Cusick won the final home match of her career in straight sets, and junior Priyanka Shah won the thrilling decisive singles match, defeating Harvard’s Jenna Freidel (7-6, 6-7, 7-5). Additionally, Stewart won her match in a third set tiebreaker, clinching the win for Cornell.

“Even though personally I lost two matches, it was our senior weekend, and being a part of the team is just about forgetting about your individual wins and losses, and focusing on the team aspect,” said senior Alexandra D’Ascenzo. “I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

With the win, Cornell sits tied for third in the Ivy League with Dartmouth and Penn. Harvard and Princeton are tied for first. Heading into the final weekend of Ivy League play, any of those five teams have a legitimate chance to capture the league crown.

Cornell owns the tiebreaker over Harvard and Princeton, while Penn and Dartmouth would win the Ivy League title should the teams end the season with identical records in league play.

Last year, Princeton defeated the Red in the final match of the season to win the Ivy League championship over Cornell.

The Red will travel to Yale and Brown this weekend, where they will most likely need to win both matches to stay alive for the title. Yale has yet to win a league match, and Brown will go into the weekend with an Ivy League record of 2-3.

“Every school in the Ivy League is really tough, so we just can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Cusick said. “Right now, we have to focus on Yale, and then we will shift our attention to Brown, and hopefully put ourselves in the best position to win the league.”

Last season, the Red defeated both the Bears and the Bulldogs.

“Obviously we want to come out with two wins this weekend, but the Ivy League title is so contingent upon the results of all the other matches happening this weekend, so we are just going in trying to focus on ourselves, and not really worry about anything else going on,” D’Ascenzo said. “We are going to go out there and put our best foot forward to try to end the season on a positive note.”