After an impressive performance at the Cornell Fall Invitational, the women’s tennis team looks to duplicate its success in the Maryland Invitational this weekend.
The Red dominated the Invitational, its first event of the fall season, winning the championships in all three singles flights as well as posting second place finishes in each of the doubles brackets.
This performance made clear the improvement of this year’s women’s tennis team from last year. While last year’s team only managed 13 victories in the 2002 Fall invitational, the current squad registered 20 wins on Saturday alone in the all-weekend event which ran from Sept. 13-14.
Head coach Tom Brownlie ’98 assigned much of the credit for the team’s improvement to the better conditioning, commenting that, “Our returning players were more committed to staying in shape and playing during the summer break .”
Further, he complimented the strength of the incoming freshman class, made up of Kasia Preneta, Nisha Suda and Melanie Tu, as another source of the immediate success for the Red this season.
“All have great potential as players, I expect great things from all of them,” said Brownlie about the new team members.
It did not take long for the freshman class to live up to its billing as Preneta and Suda turned in impressive performances in the Fall Invitational.
Prenta cruised through the singles “B” flight bracket, defeating her semifinals opponent Jill Markowitz (Rochester University) 6-3, 6-0 before shutting out Katle Bramante (Syracuse University) 6-0, 6-0 in the final.
Also, teaming up with sophomore Kara Maloy, Prenta almost won her second title of the tournament in the doubles “B” flight, barely losing the championship match 8-6.
Not to be outdone by her fellow freshman, Suda lost a total of one game in both her semifinal and championship matches. After defeating her semifinal opponent Ketevan Shmarkova (Rochester University) 6-0, 6-1, she then shutout Wei Ming Leong (Syracuse University), 6-0, 6-0 to claim top honors in the “C” flight singles bracket.
However, even with the freshmen’s exceptional finishes in the first tournament, the team will be relying on its upperclassmen to lead the team on the court. Both senior Laura Tallent and junior Akane Kokubo proved their capability in this role, as each reached the finals of in the singles “A” flight. Kokubo won the match 6-4, 6-3.
Brownlie will also rely on Tallent and Kokubo, as well as junior team co-captains Melissa Tu and Erika Takeuchi, to be leaders for the younger players off the court as well, commenting that they “are strongly committed to the team and are positive influences on the younger players.”
As Cornell prepares for the Maryland Invitational, one of the major aspects the team will have to deal with is the intersquad rivalry that goes along with the fall tennis schedule.
“The line-up is always a competitive issue. In the fall you need to be top-8 to play singles, so challenge match results and early tournament results may mean the difference between traveling to tournaments later in the fall season,” said Brownlie. “Obviously, the players fight hard to secure their spots in the line-up.”
However, the coach insists, even with this always present context of competition, the team has good dynamics.
“This is one of the most cohesive teams I have worked with here at Cornell. The players spend a lot of time together both in tennis and non-tennis activities,” said Brownlie.
With the success the team has experienced, Brownlie is already excited about the spring schedule when the dual matches begin.
The coach commented that, “with the returning players and the strong freshman class I believe we will experience greater successes this upcoming year.”
Archived article by Scott Reich