1. Ruxandra, you are the captain of the Cornell tennis team. What has tennis meant to you over the course of your college career?
It’s been really nice being a part of an organization that represents the school. Also, it’s been an honor to represent [the] Ivy League. It has been tough because I’ve had four coaches over the course of my career, which kind of made the experience more of a challenge. At the same time though, I feel like it became more gratifying every year to overcome the different situations and still have positive results. Overall, it has really been a great experience representing such a prestigious school. Even though we don’t always have the best results, it still makes me proud when I say I play for Cornell.
So you have had four coaches during your career. What are you, the most difficult team ever?
[Laughing] Yeah, we’ve had really interesting coaches. My freshman year we had a guy who was super intense, and honestly I think he might have hated girls. We cried a lot during practice. And then sophomore year we had a coach who used to coach the men’s team … that wasn’t good either. And then we shared a coach last year with the men’s team, which just failed because you can’t be in two places at once. This year hopefully it’ll be good. The season is just beginning for us but the team is optimistic.
Who is your favorite teammate?
Well, I would definitely say Sinzy [Sinziana Chis], who is also a co-captain. We’re both Romanian so we kind of have this bond from that. The funny thing about it is our personalities are complete opposites, so freshman year we didn’t really hang out or talk off the court, but we were a really good doubles team. So we ended up playing a lot and since then we’ve been very close. It’s nice because she’s one of my best friends and she’s also on the team, so on hard days she knows exactly what I’m going through.
When you are playing doubles, do you speak to each other in Romanian or English?
Actually, we do speak to each other in Romanian. Because it’s always a little awkward to have to whisper to your partner when the other team is right there. But this way, we can be really far apart and screaming and no one has any idea what we’re saying. It’s something not very common, and it’s nice to be able to do that.
Does speaking Romanian ever get in your way when you are speaking English?
[Laughing] Well actually I have some trouble pronouncing some words. Unfortunately, for some reason I can’t say “buttons,” “salmonella,” “schizophrenia” or “burglary” correctly. My friends find that very amusing.
2. Do you have any good tennis team stories?
The funniest one I guess would be freshman year, we had our spring break in Hawaii. Our assistant coach was a vegetarian who only ate green vegetables in liquid form so he had this portable blender that he brought everywhere because he had to eat every two hours. And Hawaii is 12 hours away, so he brought it in his carry-on. Of course, it rang when we went through security and it got confiscated. It caused this whole scene because he had to get searched and everyone in the airport was looking at us. But the worst part was that for the whole entire trip he didn’t have his blender, so he had to eat real food and basically was sick the whole time. And he was depressed that he had eaten regular food so he went to church to confess his sins that he had eaten real food. It was a really disturbing and bizarre situation.
That doesn’t sound like too relaxing of a spring break.
No, it wasn’t. And then on that same trip, our head coach got really sunburned. He was literally peeling through his shirt. So when we were going home, he bought Aloe Vera gel. Of course he didn’t realize that it was too many ounces to bring on the plane, so he got stopped when going through security too. The security guard is saying, “Sir you can’t bring this.” So he rips his shirt off to plead with the guy to let him bring this lotion on the plane.
Did the begging work?
Not at all. And he was flaking everywhere and everyone was looking at us. It was awful. He was basically crying saying, “I really need this. I can’t go 12 hours without it.” It was really embarrassing.
3. What about when your bus got stuck on the way to Dartmouth?
Yeah, so that was also freshman year. That was the most eventful tennis team experience, I guess. We were going to Dartmouth and we stopped to ask for directions. And it wasn’t snowing or raining or anything. So we pull over and ask for directions and when we got back in the bus it was stuck in the mud. So we’re like, “Well this sucks. We’re only five minutes away.” The driver is trying to push on the gas, nothing is happening. In fact that’s making it worse. So we thought, “Okay, we’ll just call a tow truck, I guess.” … Our coach was like, “No, girls. Let’s all go outside and we’ll push the bus.” So we thought it was ridiculous, but we were like, “Okay, we’ll try.” So we get out there and our coach didn’t even help us push. He watched us try to push the bus. He was telling us how to push and to go at different angles — everything but actually helping us. And we ended up making it worse because we couldn’t get back into the bus because it had tilted, and the mud had covered the door. So we had to climb in through the windows to get back in.
Did you make it to the match?
Yeah. We were three hours late, but we made it. The worst part was that we were all trying so hard and our coach was just standing by watching!
4. This is a follow up to a previous 10 Questions I did last year with a certain baseball player with whom you are associated: How is it dating Pete Sampras?
[Laughing] It’s funny because we’ve had weird encounters with that. I guess when he doesn’t shave for a particular amount of time and especially in the summer when he wears sunglasses people really think he looks like Pete Sampras. I was visiting him in Hawaii, where he played in a baseball league, and someone stopped and wanted a photo with him. They knew he wasn’t actually Pete Sampras, but they were like, “no, no it’s okay we still want a photo.” It’s kind of weird, actually. We get the Anna Kournikova/ Pete Sampras joke a lot. That’s actually what we were for Halloween last year.
How did you two meet?
Basically freshman year, we had mutual friends. Actually, I thought his name was Chad for two years. I mean we were friendly. We didn’t really hang out or anything, but I would always call him Chad when I saw him and no one corrected me. I would be like, “Oh hey, Chad. What’s up?” and either he didn’t hear me or just never corrected me. So for two years I had no idea what his real name was. And then I didn’t have a date to a formal and he was friends with a lot of my friends so I figured I would ask him. And then we started dating.
But first you learned his name, right?
[Laughing] Yes, first I learned his name. I think he was a little upset, but he clearly got over it. He still makes fun of me for that.
How would you describe your relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Schmeltzer?
It’s great! Jadd’s really involved with baseball and they are very supportive, and Jadd experienced an injury this past year and he’s been doing intense physical therapy for it. And in the beginning when he was still visiting doctors and trying to figure out what was wrong, they would call me every hour and leave me really detailed messages about it. I would be in class and then I would get these 10-minute messages saying, “This is what the MRI showed, these are our options.” They just wanted to keep me constantly filled in. It was really cute and I loved it, but it was just funny because I would be in class or playing tennis and it would pop up on my phone saying I had a voicemail from Mr. Schmeltzer.
5. So you guys have obviously been dating for a while. What is the best gift Jadd has ever gotten you?
Well for Valentine’s Day he got me one of those huge candy dispensers of M&M’s and they had our faces on it. It looked like actual photos of us — some with us kissing and some with our faces side by side. But they were extremely freakishly detailed. You could totally tell it was us. What happened was people would come in my room and not realize that they were a Valentine’s Day gift. They just thought they were M&M’s, and they would start eating them and be like, “Woah, this is really weird; these have your face on them.” It became creepy, kind of, because my friends were going around eating my face. I mean, I thought the gesture was adorable, but my friends were like, “Okay, yeah these are kind of weird.”
6. Tell us about “Chauncey.”
[Laughing] OK, … so Jadd and I have this made-up waiter, like a butler basically. Wow, this is embarrassing. But every time we’re lazy, we pretend we’re calling him. So in a funny voice Jadd will sing, “Chauncey!!” and clap his hands. And we’ll say things like “Well, if Chauncey were here, he could make us some food” or “Chauncey will just clean that.” And people always get really confused when we talk about Chauncey. But yeah, basically he’s our fake butler.
How did that name originate?
[Laughing] It came from some Adam Sandler movie that Jadd apparently really liked, actually.
7. Apparently you have a cool MTV connection. What is that all about?
Yes, I am good friends with Andrew Jenks from The World of Jenks. He went to my high school. He’s three years older so when I was a freshman in high school he was a senior, and his brother was in my grade. So we had a lot of mutual friends and we started hanging out a lot over the past couple years. Basically, he started studying to be a film director and now he has this show on MTV, The World of Jenks. The cool thing is that he and his friends came to Slope Day two years ago and hung out at Cornell with all my friends so Andrew Jenks from MTV has stepped foot on this campus before! But yeah, I’m really happy for him.
8. Seeing as you are obviously a very good tennis player, are you good at Wii tennis?
No, actually. I’m really, really bad at it. I’ve played Wii before but not Wii Tennis. For a while, I was looking at the wrong part of the screen … basically, I can’t even make contact with the ball. I claim that it’s the game’s fault because it’s not an accurate depiction of tennis and that’s why my timing is off, but it’s probably just because a) I wasn’t looking at the screen the proper way and b) I’m just not good at video games.
9. What was so special about your fall break this semester?
Well, Jadd has a husky and I have a German shepherd. And his dad praises their dog. He cooks it … like … omelets and all this stuff. For the past two years, we’ve always said our dogs should meet, but I was always nervous that they wouldn’t get along and then I would be banned from the house or something. I was really that nervous about it! But this fall break, they finally met. It was kind of like setting up two people for a blind date. That’s what it felt like because they didn’t know each other. We met in mutual spot and then our dad’s just walked them in the park. There was literally no other reason for the outing except for our dogs to meet — luckily they got along. It seemed like a test we passed so we could continue dating [laughing].
I also understand you took the LSATs over break?
Yes, I did.
That’s great! Do you want to be a lawyer?
Yeah, I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was ten years old. I’m an only child so I talk a lot and I always have to get the last word. So my parents were always telling me I should be a lawyer. … I’m also from Romania and being bilingual and having dual citizenship has exposed me to a lot, and I’ve always been interested in it.
Have you ever seen Legally Blonde?
Yeah, which is so funny because Jadd’s dad calls it “Legally Roxy” (which is my nickname). I mean, I could see myself being like that, but I would have a much cuter dog. Her [dog] looks a little bit like a rat [laughing]. At the same time, the movie is a very unrealistic depiction of law school — it’s definitely a lot more work than that.
10. Which other Cornell team do you like to hang out with the most?
[Laughing] Yeah, baseball and then football. [They have] really good personalities and [are] always fun to hang out with! Those are definitely my two favorite teams.