The women’s tennis team traveled to Philadelphia, Pa. last weekend to compete in the Cissie Leary Invitational, hosted by Penn.
“This past weekend was very good,” said head coach Mike Stevens. “The competition was very strong and our girls really did well ... against the good competition. So it’s definitely a good weekend and very promising for us as far as the rest of the year [is concerned].”
The Red had a solid performance on Friday, the first day, as five singles players and all four doubles pairs made it to the round of 16.
“We had a lot of people win some matches — it was a pretty good weekend for us,” said senior co-captain Christine Ordway. “It’s a big tournament because there’s a lot of other Ivy League schools playing in it, so it gives us a good sense of where we’re at right now in comparison to our main competition for the spring. I thought overall we did pretty well.”
Ordway and freshman Dena Tanenbaum beat Penn’s Julianna Rodin and Sol Eskenazi — an incredible upset, as the Penn duo is ranked No. 35 in the nation and was seeded first in the tournament.
“Dena had a very good showing in doubles,” Stevens said. “Her and her partner Christine [Ordway] upset their doubles opponents who are nationally ranked, which is very good for them. They did very well.”
On Saturday, junior Ryann Young was eliminated in the quarterfinals while freshman Laila Judeh and sophomore Lauren Frazier advanced to the semifinals. Sunday, Judeh — who, up until Sunday, was 6-0 for the season — forced a third set before falling to Yale’s Courtney Amos.
“Judeh did very well, she made it to the semifinals of the B Flight off several three-set match wins, which definitely helped get her mentally tougher,” Stevens said. “She did very well in the semis, she played three very good sets … [it was a] great showing for her. It’s great to see how well she can play, great to see her come back from so many first set losses.”
Frazier was able to defeat her opponent, Alex Ion of Penn, but later fell to Amos in the finals of the Flight B Singles.
“Lauren [Frazier] played great — I think she had a breakthrough tournament,” Stevens said. “She had some excellent wins over some very good players from Penn and other schools. She had a new game plan going into this tournament based on results from the past weekend and last season, and she performed very well. Her results were very good and extremely promising.”
“I definitely gained some confidence for the upcoming season,” Frazier said. “Now that we saw how the competition will be, I think we all feel better about going forward into the next tournament, which is ECACs two weekends from now.”
An important aspect about the past weekend is that the Red saw a lot of Ivy League opponents.
“We definitely get a measure of the opponent and how we need to practice, how we need to train to beat certain other players on the teams that we will probably be matched up with in the spring,” Frazier said. “If we do badly against them in the fall we work harder, if we are right up there with them it gives us a lot of confidence and we’re happy. It’s good to not go into the spring season blind.”
Stevens agreed that exposure to Ivy foes in the fall is important for the team.
“It was great for the women on the team to get to see what the competition is like,” he said. “Yale was there, Penn, Columbia … Yale is ranked 25 or 26 in the country right now. [It] shows the girls what the competition will be like in the spring and how hard you have to work to get to that level.”
The Leary Invitational was played outdoors — this can affect a team’s play, but according to Ordway, did not phase the Red.
“I’d say it was pretty windy outside and everyone definitely picked up the pace playing outdoors,” she said. “It’s great to see because it’s something we have been working on. Transitioning between indoor and outdoor tennis is pretty difficult. Everyone has been playing pretty well, so that I was pretty happy about that.”
Cornell has some time to rest before facing its next competition, which will be the USTA Collegiate Invitational on Oct. 6-8 in New York.
“In two weeks we are playing the tournament in Flushing Meadows,” Ordway said. “Almost all of the Ivies go, so it is another great opportunity to play against teams that we are going to be seeing a lot of in the spring and that we want to compare ourselves to. Everyone is looking forward to it, we are obviously going to be preparing a lot in these next two weeks and getting ready for that.”
The USTA tournament is held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the US Open is played every year.
“It’s definitely a cool tournament because we get to play on the courts where all the pros play that you see on TV,” Ordway said. “The tournament has a unique atmosphere because of that.”
Although the team has a break from competing this weekend, it does not have a break from practicing.
“We’ll be practicing this weekend, but we are off from competition for the next week and a half, so we will be suring up things that showed up as weaknesses this weekend,” Stevens said. “Tennis is a team sport but it is also incredibly individualized, so each player has their own things to work on … We will be working on that with all of them this next week to get their games ready for next weekend because the competition will be great in New York as well, but that’s what we’re looking forward to. The better the competition, the more they get tested and the better they get.”