March 17, 2004

Women's Tennis Prepares for Ivy Challenges

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The improving women’s tennis team has enjoyed a perfect 4-0 winter season. But as the weather gets better, so will the competition, and Cornell faces a month of tough matches once Ivy League play begins on March 27.

Interim head coach Tom Brownlie ’98 has guided the Red to a series of strong victories, and the team is playing some of its best tennis in years. Cornell will need to play at such a high level to compete against Ivy powers like Harvard and Penn.

Freshman Nisha Suda noted Brownlie’s energetic, creative, and determined coaching ability.

“His talent and enthusiasm are great,” Suda said.”Our practices are focused, helpful, and enjoyable for all of us. We’re getting a lot out of them.”

Over spring break, the netters will have some more time to work on their game. The Red will travel to San Diego, Calif. to practice and play against several West Coast teams. Cornell will then start Ivy League competition, against Columbia in New York City.

Cornell is led this year by senior Laura Leigh Tallent, at the No. 2 singles spot, and junior Akane Kokubo, at the No. 1 spot. Bolstered by strong play from junior Erika Takeuchi at the No. 3 spot, the Red started the season with victories against upstate rivals Colgate and Syracuse. The Red then defeated both Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Massachusetts, in Ithaca, last week.

“We’re doing really well this year,” said freshman Kasia Preneta. “We’ve started the season off strong.

Preneta sees the netters’ recent victory over UMBC as evidence of improvement.

“We lost to UMBC last year,” she said. “To go out and beat them like we did, 7-0, definitely builds our confidence.”

Both Preneta and Suda commented on the progression of Cornell’s doubles play.

“Doubles is becoming a strength of ours,” Preneta said. “We’ve worked a ton on it.”

Brownlie has experimented with various doubles pairings over the season. In the Red’s last match, Kokubo played with Takeuchi at the No. 1 spot, while junior Melissa Tu paired with sophomore Mollie Edinson at the second spot. A team of sophomore Kara Maloy and Preneta rounded out the doubles ladder.

“Our doubles teams have really improved,” Suda noted. “[Coach Brownlie] has really emphasized this part of the game.”

And Brownlie’s efforts have paid off.

The Red has gone 10-2 in doubles matches this season, compared with a 6-12 record at this same time last year. Earning the doubles point will be of prime importance if Cornell hopes to win close matches during Ivy competition.

“The Ivies will be tough,” Suda emphasized.

One of the Red’s best chances for conference victory this season will come again against Dartmouth, to whom Cornell narrowly lost to last year, 4-3. The netters will face the Green, in Hanover, N.H., on April 9.

Before that, however, the Red will play non-Ivy Boston College, in Ithaca, on April 4.

The Ivy season will continue with a match against Harvard, on April 10, in Cambridge. Cornell will then face Yale and Brown on April 16 and 17, respectively, in Ithaca. The netters last home match comes against Princeton on April 23. The Red will finish its season at Penn, on April 25.

Archived article by Ted Nyman