March 12, 2002

Easing Into the Spring Season

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The women’s tennis team’s spring season actually began back in January, with the Red posting two impressive wins against Colgate and St. Bonaventure. The team has ridden this success to a 5-1 record, also capturing three singles titles and one doubles title at the Cornell Winter Indoor Classic.

“Our team is really strong throughout the lineup. The freshmen add a lot of depth, and our team cohesiveness is strong. The team has the potential to be at the top,” said sophomore Laura Leigh Tallent.

The lady netters are led by junior Suzanne Wright at first singles, who is off to an impressive 8-1 start. At the Indoor Classic, Wright took the A-flight singles title as well as the A-flight doubles title with junior partner Daniela DelPrete. The Red has also seen strong play from freshmen Erika Takeuchi and Akane Kokubo. The freshman netters rose to the occasion at the Indoor Classic, with Takeuchi and Kokubo winning at the B and C-flight singles, respectively, and Melissa Tu reaching the finals at the D-flight singles.

“I think one thing that has been kind of nice about our team is that the upperclassmen take the freshmen under their wing to help them sort out things with their classes or issues they might have as being part of the team,” head coach Angela Rudert said. “The upperclassmen have done that well, and not just our captains, we have a lot of juniors who have all been terrific with the freshmen.”

The transition from junior tennis to college-level play can be difficult for freshmen, but the Red’s rookies have adapted well.

“Junior tennis was very competitive and individual,” remarked Takeuchi. “It’s nice to be able to incorporate the team aspect.”

The fall regular season, composed of only two tournaments, was especially short for the Red. Individual play was stressed more, as the only team matches came at the ECAC Championship.

At the ECACs, the netters faced three Ivy League opponents and pulled off a strong 6-1 win against Brown, which was enough to earn the Red a seventh-place finish. Wright and DelPrete went to the ITA Eastern Regional Championships in Philadelphia. Wright advanced to the third round before losing to Kavitha Krishnamurthy of Princeton, and DelPrete won her two qualifying matches to advance to the first round of the main draw. She ended up losing there to Grace Wu of Binghamton. Wright and DelPrete then teamed up to play against Old Dominion in doubles.

The Red’s only loss this spring came to a nationally-ranked Penn State team. Wright came away with the only win for the netters.

“Basically, they outplayed us, they were just a better team on the day and probably a better team overall,” said Wright. “We had a couple of close [matches]. We actually got a lot closer to them than last year.”

The team will face its toughest competition of the spring season when it heads down to Louisiana during spring break to face No. 61 Tulane, No. 64 New Orleans, and Louisiana at Lafayette.

“[These matches] will be really good competition and practice for the Ivies,” remarked sophomore Kate Sternberg. “They will make us match tough, and it will also be a good bonding experience for the team.”

After the Louisiana road trip, the Red must battle the other Ivy League schools to finish out the season. The Ancient Eight boasts four nationally-ranked teams, including No. 34 Pennsylvania and No. 42 Harvard. The Crimson’s team includes freshman Courtney Bergman, who is currently ranked No. 27 in the nation.

“Our Ivy matchups are going to be tough. Actually, we find more of the nationally-ranked teams in the Ivy League than our out-of-conference play. They’re probably our toughest competition of all,” said Rudert.

With a strong showing against UMBC, Massachusetts, and Binghamton, the netters will be able to gain momentum for their Louisiana road trip and the Ivy League season.

“We’re building up our confidence by playing other teams, so we’ll be more prepared for the Ivy matches [this time around],” said Kokubo.

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach