Today through Sunday, the women’s tennis team will hope to serve, volley and groundstroke its way to victory amongst a field of teams including Ivy foe Columbia and a tough Bucknell squad. The Cornell Winter Invitational will test to see that the team has not skipped a beat after a productive fall season.
Junior Nisha Suda, who will play in the D flight singles this weekend, admits that while the winter training is tough, it is the key factor to becoming a better team.
“[Head Coach] Laura [Glitz] has been working us really hard this week since we got back,” Suda said. “After one of our two-hour practices we had to do a two-mile run in 15 minutes, and for every second over we had to do sprints. The result of this, though, is that our team is faster, stronger, and quicker than it has been in years. This gives us the best chance to actually compete against strong teams like Columbia.”
Glitz said the team right now just ahead of Bucknell, and a little behind Columbia, putting Cornell at the top end of a field that also includes Binghamton, Colgate, UMBC and Army.
“This weekend is a really good chance to get back to match toughness,” Glitz said. “We can use these matches to see where we’re at and try to set a consistent lineup since everyone gets to play in this tournament. We raised the level in competition and fitness last semester and we need to keep that up.”
This will hold especially true for freshman Elizabeth Googe, who will be playing her first match after being sidelined with mononucleosis for part of the fall season.
“This will really give me an idea of where I stand and what I need to do between this tournament and when we have our next matches,” Googe said. “There will be a little bit of nerves on my part, but I’m really looking forward to playing Columbia because I know a few girls on the team, and we are coming off a win over them last year.”
The tournament will consist of A-D flight singles and A and B flight doubles. Glitz will plug the whole team into matches in hopes of getting them all on the same page.
“Last semester, we would have several people play exceptionally in every tournament, but then some people who would have off days,” Glitz said. “I think the key here, heading into the Ivies in April, is to get everyone playing well on the same days. I know tennis is a very individualized sport, but we need a lot of team unity to succeed.”
As Glitz steps into her second year coaching, she is getting a chance to coach her first recruiting class, creating a team that is larger and younger than it has been recently – more than a third of the team consists of freshmen. Suda feels that with so many newcomers on the team, each player can fight for spots in the lineup, creating a competitive atmosphere that pushes the team to higher levels.
“Since Laura got here she has really stepped up the program, especially with recruiting,” Suda said. “She set the team’s goal to be having a bigger presence in the Ivy League. We have really been pushovers in the Ivy League recently, but our competitive nature has really helped us because while we’re fighting for spots, we’re also all really good friends and everyone really wants what’s best for the team. She also set goals for each individual player. For instance, I am working hard on not simply staying along the baseline but getting to the net more, playing more aggressively and closing points quicker. This will not only help this weekend, but down the line when we play Brown, Penn, and all our Ivy League matches.”