With spring fast approaching (or so we would think), Cornell sports enthusiasts turn their attention towards the women’s tennis scene. Despite a slightly disappointing run in the 2000 season (8-11 overall 1-6 Ivy), the Red is aiming for bigger and better things this season.
In fact, since the start of the season in late January, the team has gone from strength to strength, notching up an impressive 6-2 record. Colgate, Syracuse, Massachusetts, and Binghamton are a few of the names that have already succumbed to the sheer pressure of the Red machine this season. Leading this year’s volley of players is senior captain Ngozi Amobi. Over the past few seasons, Amobi has shown tremendous dedication to her game, and in doing so she has molded herself into a reliable tennis player.
Moreover, the culmination of several years of experience has finally given her the opportunity to wear the captain’s armband. More than anything else,
“Our team dynamic has improved a lot since last year. We are much more cohesive this season, and our team morale is a lot higher. Our goal is always to improve, but I think we are going for a win in the Ivy season,” Amobi enthused.
“I have constant nostalgia that this is my last season,” she continued. “I am both excited and saddened. Tennis has been a huge part of my life here and it has just flown by. I’m really looking forward to the Ivy season though, even though it will be my last.”
Coaching the team for a fourth consecutive season is Angela Rudert. She guided the Red to a 9-11 record in 1998-99, after coaching the team to a 7-10 mark during the 1998 spring season.
Sophomore Alex Delprete believes that Rudert’s success as a coach stems from her superb communication with the team.
“[Rudert] has great confidence in our abilities. As a result, we’re able to play to our potential at every meet,” Delprete said. “In the end it all boils down to communication and feeling comfortable while bringing up issues.”
The bulk of last year’s team returns for this season, and many are pleased with the progress made thus far.
New to the squad are freshmen duo Kate Sternberg and Laura Leigh Tallent. Sternberg is hopeful that the good times will return to East Hill.
“The Ivy League competition should be interesting,” she said. “Last year, we were really close and I think this year we will come out stronger than the majority of teams expect. They’re going to be in for a surprise this season.” She is also one of the many singing the praises for captain Amobi.
“Ngozi is such a good leader and role model for everyone,” Sternberg explained.
Alex Delprete is one of the many returning players who believes that women’s tennis has come a long way in the past year.
“This year our team is definitely much stronger. The two freshmen are an awesome addition to the squad and the returning members have all become a lot stronger,” she said. “Our goal this year is to be in the top three of the Ivy League. It’s going to be a tough campaign, but we’re going to play to win.” She also believes that the key to success this year will be found in the team’s willingness to play as a group instead of as a collection of individuals.
“Our success as a team is contingent upon the fact that everyone plays as a team, and that we are not just winning for ourselves. If we play for the team, then we can win for the team, and we’ll all be proud to be part of it,” she said. “I have a lot of faith in the team, and it’s only going to get stronger. The team is always on your side.”
In its latest contest, played last week, the team lost a hard fought battle with No. 72 Penn State. The highlight of the tie was captain Amobi’s magnificent three-set victory over the Nittany Lions’ Judy Wang at number-three singles, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
As a captain, Amobi is cautious but exudes a subtle confidence.
“We have a really strong team but it’s always too easy to become overconfident. So far it’s going really well and hopefully this will continue into the spring season,” Amobi said. “Our goal is to win the Ivies, and in this game, anything is possible.”
Cornell returns to action tomorrow when the team entertains Seton Hall and Stony Brook at the Reis Tennis Center.
Archived article by Kris Rajan