The Cornell men’s and women’s tennis teams will both begin their 2012-13 seasons this weekend. The women’s team will be facing competition on its home turf, hosting the Cornell Fall Invitational. The tournament will be a three-day ordeal, starting Friday and ending on Sunday at the Reis Tennis Center.
“We are just looking to see what we need to focus on in practices — this first competition is going to be good [for that],” said women’s head coach Mike Stevens. “Buffalo is a solid team and Albany is a very good team too, so we just want to see how the girls are going to compete against outside competition … We are expecting good things, everyone is looking strong in practice.”
Starting off the season at home is especially significant to the Red, as it will not be competing at Reis again this fall.
“It makes it more comfortable being on the courts that we practice on every day,” Stevens said. “So in that regard sure, they get to sleep in their own beds, they don’t have to travel for several hours. It’s more comfortable for them, absolutely.”
The Red recruited four freshmen to the squad — a group that was ranked No. 23 amongst all other recruiting classes in the country by The Recruiting Network.
“We have four freshmen that are playing very well,” Stevens said. “They all had very solid junior careers and we are looking forward to very good things from all four of them.”
“They are great,” said junior Ryann Young of the team’s new freshmen. “All four are really talented and hardworking so I think we are all really excited … They are all pretty experienced in matches from junior tennis and I think we will really get to see that this weekend and in upcoming tournaments as well.”
This tournament is important because it helps the Red prepare for its Ivy foes.
“For the fall, it really helps just to get as much experience as possible so that we are ready for our spring season, especially the Ivy League season,” Young said. “Every match we play this fall will impact how we play in the spring, so just keeping that in mind we really want to work hard and do well.”
Not only has Cornell added some new faces to its lineup, but it also did not lose a single player from last season. Among the returning players are senior Sarah O’Neil and sophomore Lauren Frazier, who are currently posted in the ITF’s preseason rankings as the 52nd best pair in the country.
“We have been practicing for a week now, the team is looking very strong,” Stevens said. “We have a lot of competition among members of the team which is good because they are pushing each other to get better.”
The men are heading to Princeton, N.J. for the Farnsworth Invitational.
“We have been practicing really, really cleanly and the opponents are pretty tough so we are looking forward to a good challenge and adjusting our game plans,” said junior Venkat Iyer. “We want to make sure that we’re disciplined with our approach and execute according to practice — if we do that, we’ll be fine.”
At the end of the season, Cornell was ranked No. 72 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
“All of us are pretty ready,” Iyer said. “We had a good, strong couple weeks of practice and we’re all pretty ready to go.”
The Red had one of the youngest lineups in the country last year, so on the men’s side, too, not a single player was lost over the summer. Two new players have also joined the squad.
“The team chemistry is fantastic,” Iyer said. “We all get together a lot, we’re the best of friends. On the court we compete hard and push each other. We spend so much time together … As a team I think we are a pretty cohesive group and I think that’s one of the reasons why we will be successful.”
This season begins head coach Silviu Tanasoiu’s second year with the Red.
“He’s great,” Iyer said. “[Tanasoiu] is a tireless worker — he puts a lot more hours than we do on the court, that’s for sure. It’s always fun to work with him and our assistant coach [Brendan Lynch]. They both spend so much time with us and really push us to work hard, and that’s all we can ask.”