When senior Laura Leigh Tallent arrived at Cornell almost four years ago, she immediately became a starter on the women’s tennis team.
“We had a really solid team,” Tallent said. “There was a lot of depth throughout the whole lineup.”
The Florida native went on to prove that she deserved that starting spot, earning a number of victories during the fall and winter seasons. She went on play at the No. 3 spot in the spring, and at the No. 2 spot by the end of her sophomore year.
This year, Tallent played at the No. 1 spot during the team’s Ivy League campaign. At the top of the ladder, Tallent faced off against the best of the Ancient Eight.
“Every team is good [in the Ivy League],” she said. “Every match was a challenge.”
The highlight of Tallent’s year was a 6-4, 6-4 win over Christine Alford of No. 67 Yale. Alford had defeated No. 76 Nicole Ptak of Penn the week before visiting Cornell.
Tallent also managed a number of solid wins before the Ivy League schedule began. She defeated opponents from Colgate, Massachussets, and Maryland-Baltimore County. She also enjoyed wins at the Cornell Spring Invitational.
Although primarily a singles player, Tallent played several doubles matches this year. “I was never a really big doubles player,” Tallent said. “I learned to appreciate it.”
Tallent considers this year’s team to be the best she’s been played for. This season, Cornell won its first Ivy League match in two years — a 5-2 victory over Brown. The Red nearly defeated Columbia, and the netters were competitive in almost all their conference matches.
Tallent said she feels like her own game has improved this year as well.
“It was some of the best tennis I’ve played,” she said. “I was working on my serve and backhand. They definitely improved to where they even became weapons.”
Tallent also noted the camaraderie of the 11-woman team.
“We’re a small team, so everyone looks to each other for support and encouragement,” she said.
Although Tallent will no longer play for Cornell next year, the chemical engineering major will still be in Ithaca, cheering on the team.
“I’m staying here for my masters,” she said. “I’ll be on the sidelines. I’ll probably go to practice.”
While the women’s team will lose only one senior this year, the men’s team will graduate five veterans.
Zach Gallin, of Setauket, N.Y., enjoyed one of the best seasons in the history of Cornell tennis this year. Playing at the No. 1 singles spot, he defeated several top non-conference opponents, and went 7-0 in Ivy League play. For his efforts, Gallin received a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Scott Paltrowitz, of Queensbury, N.Y., played at the No. 2 spot this year. His leadership and determination could be seen throughout the season. His year was highlighted by a win over No. 126 Akshay Rao of Columbia, and a semifinal appearance at the Princeton Invitational.
Scott Spencer, of Rolling Hills Estates, Ca., won last year’s Most Improved Player Award, and he continued his strong play this year. Spencer teamed with Gallin for one of the Red’s most successful doubles pairings. At singles, he managed six consecutive wins in February and March.
Michael Schlappig, of Tampa, Fla., went 8-5 at singles this year. He also won the “B” division of the fall Cornell Invitational.
Aravinda Neuman, of London, England, also played well in the fall, winning two matches at the ECAC championships.
Archived article by Ted Nyman
Sun Staff Writer