Tennis is a cruel sport. Bad calls, broken strings, clipped net chords — a countless number of things can go wrong. Your best shot can become your worst. The player you used to mop the court with is suddenly beating you 6-0, 6-0. No one needs to tell the women’s tennis team this.
Despite potential and tenacity, the squad has struggled in recent years, going 7-9 last season with only one Ivy League win. Yet, just as a fresh can of balls can put new life in your game, so too can a new coach, which is exactly what the Red are hoping for with the naming of Laura Glitz as the new Carl H. Meinig ’31 Head Coach of Women’s Tennis.
Becoming the eighth coach in program history, Glitz takes over the position from interim head coach Tom Brownlie ’98. Glitz brings with her an impressive tennis resume that boast experience as both a player and a coach. An All-America selection at Arizona State, Glitz spent four years on the WTA Tour playing in all four Grand Slam events. Before coming to Cornell, she worked as tennis pro in Pennsylvania and most recently served as the assistant coach to Princeton’s renowned Louise Gengeler.
Working with Gengeler, Glitz described half partnership, half mentorship and felt the experience has smoothed the transition to head coach.
“[Gengeler] was helping me with what I need to do to become a good head coach,” said Glitz. “Last year I did a lot of the duties as head coach, so it hasn’t been that big of a transition yet.”
Glitz inherits a Cornell program virtually intact from last year, including seniors Akane Kokubo and Erika Takeuchi, both second team All-Ivy players last year. Last year’s lone departing senior, Laura Leigh Tallent, will return for the fall to volunteer as an assistant coach.
“It’ll be nice because obviously [Tallent] knows the girls, plus she’s a great player,” Glitz said. Having met and seen only about half the team, Glitz is unsure what to expect. Ironically, the one match she missed last year was Princeton and Cornell. She was having foot surgery, while the Tigers beat the Red 6-1.
“I’m not sure exactly why the team hasn’t done better, because it definitely has all the tools to be a good program,” said Glitz. “The one thing, from just talking with the captains, is that they just need to be in a more disciplined atmosphere.”
Glitz plans to focus on all aspects of the game from technique, to training, to mental preparation.
“The one thing everybody said about this team is that they’re very good fighters. If you have that then I think you can improve,” Glitz said. “My goal will be just for us to be as prepared as we can when we go to play. Then you let it happen and whatever’s going to happen happens.”
Recruitment will also be one of Glitz’s top priorities. She plans to bring in 14 or 15 potential recruits for visits this year with the hopes that 4 or 5 of them will be playing for her in the fall.
“That’s obviously the basis of your program,” She said. “You’ve got to keep feeding your program every year, otherwise you end up at the bottom.”
Glitz looks forward to playing against Princeton and relishes the idea of a victory over her old team.
“I definitely would like to take them down,” she said.
While she refrained from making predictions about the outcome or about possibly recruiting some transfers from Princeton.
Glitz faces a tough road ahead this coming year. Both Harvard and Penn are bringing in strong recruits, while Yale and Princeton are perennial contenders. At the other end of the spectrum is Brown, which at the moment has yet to find a head coach to replace its coach of 19 years, Norma Taylor. While the addition of Glitz alone is unlikely to bring the Red home an Ivy League crown this year, it may just be the fresh can of balls needed to revitalize the women’s tennis program.
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer