October 18, 2005

Tennis Teams Earn Mixed Results

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The men’s and women’s tennis teams returned home from the Army Shootout and the Bucknell Women’s Tennis Fall Classic, respectively, short on victories but with plenty of valuable lessons learned.

The games did not even count for the Cornell men’s tennis team’s overall record – but some athletes, this past weekend’s matches could prove to be their most important of the fall season. As the Red did not send its top-4 players, several freshmen and two sophomores got a chance to strut their stuff against some top-notch opponents. On Saturday, the men faced off against Big Ten powerhouse Penn State and Ivy foe Yale, ranked first and eighth respectively at the Red’s last tournament, the ECAC championships.

“Penn State and Yale both brought their regular lineups except for their top player,” said sophomore Kevin Jay.

Jay was one of only two players, along with freshman Weston Nichols, who scored victories on Saturday, both coming against Yale. The Red lost in straight sets in all six singles matches against Penn State, as well as falling short in its doubles matches.

“We can’t consider Saturday a failure, though,” Jay said. “I felt we hung tough and played aggressive. Half our losses against Yale were in three sets, which shows we fought hard which is what really mattered. This was our chance to show the coaches why we deserve to be in the starting lineup come spring season.”

If Saturday was not a failure, then Sunday was beyond a success, with the Red taking all six singles matches against Army and one of three doubles matches.

“On Sunday, we came out a little more energetic,” Jay said. “We were better at attacking with the forehand, hitting long groundstrokes, then moving to the net for a volley. It also helped that Army’s not as good as Penn State and Yale.”

On the women’s side, when the dust settled after two days of the Bucknell Women’s Tennis Fall Classic, the Red found themselves with several standout performances, boasting remaining players in Flights “B,” “C,” and “D” on Sunday.

With sophomore Ashley Ebbert gunning for the “C” Flight championship, senior Liying Wang battling in the “B” Flight consolation final and sophomore Weatherly Schwab still alive in the “D” Flight on the last day of the tournament, Cornell fell short on all three counts. Ebbert – who lost in straight sets to Binghampton’s Nicole Scarrangella, 6-1, 6-2 – said she lost her consistency going into her final match.

“I felt I played a little nervous on Sunday, causing me to be tight and struggle with things like my serve and finishing off points,” she said. “My first three matches, I always played to win instead of playing not to lose, and I told myself I wasn’t leaving the court until I won. That really helped me play the court confidently and put the pressure on my opponent to play the ball. Sunday, I Iost some of that due to nervousness.”

With Cornell sending only five players to Bucknell – the other half of the team having gone to Flushing Meadows, N.Y., last weekend for the Women’s Collegiate Invitational – Ebbert said she felt the intimate atmosphere benefited the Red.

“We had an incredible amount of support, cheering each other on all weekend, running on the court to congratulate each other,” she said. “A little positive attitude can go a long way, and help you have that extra bit of confidence you may need to not be nervous and finish off that one point, or not choke on that one serve.”

In the “A” Flight, freshman Tamara John bowed her head against tricky wind conditions and forged her way to the semifinal, where she lost to St. John’s Barbora Blahutiakova, 6-4, 6-2.

“It was tricky adjusting to the outdoor game,” John said. “Sometimes I fell into the habit of playing like I was indoors, where you try and win the point on the first or second shot of every rally. Outdoors, I really have to be patient and wait for my opening to use my weapon, my forehand.”

Archived article by Cory Bennett
Sun Contributor