After experiencing mixed success in a number of individual tournaments during the fall season, the women’s tennis team hopes to set a winning standard as the spring season begins to take shape. Cornell also looks to build on the recent achievements of senior Akane Kokubo, junior Mollie Edinson and the rest of the squad as it prepares to engage Syracuse this Sunday at Reis Tennis Center.
“Syracuse is a huge match for us,” Kokubo said. “Everyone on the team is pretty ready and psyched up.”
Cornell kicked off its spring schedule with the Big Red Invitational, a six-team meet featuring Columbia, Binghamton, Army, Bucknell and UMBC. In the Singles Flight A bracket, Kokubo was barely edged out by Columbia’s Milena Kachar in the championship round (6-0, 6-4). However, Cornell swept through the Flight B and C brackets, claiming the top three spots in each division. The Flight B final was a Cornell-exclusive affair, as sophomore Nisha Suda beat teammate Erika Takeuchi for the bracket title. The Flight C bracket was more of the same, as junior Kara Maloy defeated sophomore Melanie Tu (6-3, 6-2) to steal the victory.
However, a Valentine’s Day weekend excursion to Boston proved to be a humbling experience for the tennis team, as the Red dropped matches to both Boston College and Boston University. Cornell failed to record a single victory against the Eagles, who sent the Red to a 7-0 team loss — its first in match play this season. Edinson pushed opponent Lindsey Nash to a three-set match, but it was not enough to emerge victorious.
Cornell lost a heartbreaker to the Terriers on Feb. 13, losing by a team score of 4-3. After dropping the first three singles spots, the Red rebounded and scored victories in the final three positions. Takeuchi pounded BU’s Monica Sheppard (6-4, 7-5) in the No. 4 spot, and Suda and Tu cleaned up the singles matches with consecutive wins of their own. Unfortunately, Cornell could not keep up with the Terriers on the doubles court, falling in all three matches.
“I think it’s just that we happened to start off with two really tough [duals] matches,” Kokubo said. “But in the long run, [the matches] will only make us better.”
The Red rebounded with a vengeance in its third dual match of the spring season, a 6-1 drubbing of visiting Marist on Feb. 19. Cornell swept every match except for one, taking the top two singles spots and every doubles spot. Junior Kara Maloy and sophomore Kasia Preneta highlighted the team victory with a dominant victory (8-0) in the No. 3 doubles position.
The Red faces a tough competitor in Syracuse (7-1, 3-0 Big East), a team currently riding a six-match winning streak. The Orange boasts a venerable duo of rookies in Victoria Vaynberg and Catherine Zawadzki, both of whom have seen considerable time in Syracuse’s top positions.
However, the Cornell team still sees no reason to adjust its gameplan on Sunday, despite the Orange’s recent acquisitions.
“We’re going into this weekend definitely thinking we are going to win,” Maloy said. “Playing a lot of matches and getting great match experience will be great preparation for the Ivies down the lines.”
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor