The women’s tennis team had a dominating weekend, as Cornell beat both St. Bonaventure on Saturday and St. John’s on Sunday at the Reis Tennis Center. In both of these showings, the Red did not drop a single set.
Head coach Mike Stevens expressed his delight at the team’s two strong victories over the weekend.
“We had a very nice win against [St. Bonaventure],” Stevens said. “Everyone on the team played very well that day and the results speak for that. So that was a good day. Sunday we played St. John’s — a little bit better team — and the results were good again.”
These two weekend matches were the Red’s first dual matches of the spring. Senior co-captain Ruxandra Dumitrescu explained how coming out so triumphant this weekend was an exciting way to start the season.
“It was a great start to the season,” Dumitrescu said. “I think it was really important for us to come out strong and play our games. We didn’t drop a set — we won all the singles and all the doubles — it shows us we have the potential to do well.”
This explosive start to the spring 2011 season was the first start for some of Cornell’s players, as this year the team has a lot of new faces.
“We have a lot of freshmen in the lineup so I think it’s important in these dual matches before the Ivy season to shake their nerves and get them ready for the Ivies,” Dumitrescu said.
“The team is practicing hard and getting better every day, and those results were a good start for us for our spring season,” Stevens said.
This start is definitely just the beginning; Cornell is looking forward to what promises to be an eventful weekend, as it takes on rival Binghamton.
“We play Binghamton on Saturday, which will be a very good test for us,” Stevens said. “They were nationally ranked last year and they have all their starters back. They’re a very good team. We are looking forward to the challenge — to see what we need to improve on.”
The Red has faced the Bearcats many times in the past and is familiar with the team.
“We are really excited because Binghamton is always kind of a rival team for us,” Dumitrescu said. “Some years we beat them, some years we lose. Every year, regardless of results, it’s always a close match, usually 4-3. We know a lot of the team because we play them a lot. We know what to expect, we know they’re tough. Matches are always tight. You never really know how it’s going to go, so I think the team is very, very pumped. There’s a lot on the line and I think we can do it.”
But there is one thing different about this year’s matchup against Binghamton.
“To add on to that, our coach this year used to be the Binghamton coach, so it’s kind of like a little bit of an extra incentive that we want to win for,” Dumitrescu said.
It will not be getting easier from there, as the weekend after the Red heads to the ECAC Championships at Princeton.
“We have two challenging weekends coming up but we are looking forward to it,” Stevens said.
The men’s team spent the weekend on the road, as Cornell defeated Virginia Commonwealth, 4-3, on Friday and fell to Maryland, 5-2, on Sunday.
“VCU is a really strong team — pretty tough right now and has a ton of tradition — they are a top 25 team over the last decade or so, and are obviously well coached,” said head coach Tony Bresky. “It was a tough match on the road. The guys came out excited to play a competitive match and they were able to pull together a win.”
Senior tri-captain Jonathan Jaklitsch spoke about how the team fared as a whole in its Friday victory.
“VCU is a great program, they made the NCAA finals less then 10 years ago,” Jaklitsch said. “We knew it was going to be really tough and we got out there ready. Andy [Gauthier] had a tough match; I ended up winning in two. Mirza [Klias] has been stepping up and he played a great match for us, too. We’re really excited about [the victory], we knew it would be a tough one.”
The Red did not fare as well on Sunday, and fell to Maryland.
“We had a tough start in doubles,” Bresky said. “Doubles happens fast and it ended up hurting us throughout the match. We were able to pull out a couple of wins, but it just wasn’t enough. They were solid, deep into their lineup.”
Cornell lost all three of its doubles matches against Maryland, something that hurt the team and ultimately led to its downfall.
“I think we came out a little flat on the doubles,” Jaklitsch said. “That’s something really rare. Doubles is one of our strongest points. We had a bunch of other close matches that just didn’t go our way.”
Despite the loss, the Red is still confident about the rest of the season.
“They are a tough team, and it’s really early in the season,” Bresky said.
“Overall I think the team is doing really well,” Jaklitsch said. “Things are looking pretty good right now.”
The team will need this confidence as it continues on, gearing up to play Penn State this weekend.
“I know the guys are already excited to play a Big Ten team,” Bresky said. “The guys are ready for a rematch to see where the program has come. We lost to them 6-1 last year, and now we are excited to try to defeat them. We’ll see if we can get a win against a team we haven’t beaten in a very long time.”
“Penn State is a team that we actually haven’t beaten since I have been at Cornell,” Jaklitsch said. “This year, we’re actually on paper better than them — so we’re expecting to win ... It’s always tough to go on the road and play, and especially against a Big Ten team. We are looking forward to the opportunity and this year I think we are ready to take them out.”