September 8, 2006

W. Tennis Hosts Fall Invitational

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The women’s tennis team will serve up its first matches of the 2006-07 season at Reis Tennis Center as the Red hosts the annual Cornell Fall Invitational.
Colgate, Buffalo, Army, Lehigh, Marist, and Niagara are all scheduled to attend this weekend, as the tournament begins with two rounds of doubles matches today, with two rounds of singles and one round of doubles both tomorrow and Sunday.
In an effort to improve upon an increasingly steady — but not yet stellar — 8-8 (2-5 Ivy) season last year, head coach Laura Glitz has enumerated two goals to be achieved by this year’s squad.
“Last year we made a significant jump in the Ivy League, and we’re looking to follow that up with another jump into the upper half of the Ivy League teams,” Glitz said. “Another focus is to earn a spot in the national rankings, which only the top 75 teams in the country can do.”
Glitz hopes to use the Fall Invitational — as well as the upcoming mock duals held by Cornell in October, the Cissie Leary Invitational hosted by Penn, and the USAFA Invitational in Colorado — as an opportunity to see the women compete against comparable opponents and to sort out the team’s lineup for the spring season beginning in January.
Senior Nisha Suda and her teammates also like the invitational-style tournaments as a change from their typical dual matches.
“Although it’s an individual tournament, it’s still really important for the team as a whole. It’s a great opportunity to play lots of different people — people from different schools, people who’ve been coached differently — as opposed to just one school and one opponent. It’s a test for each individual,” Suda said.
This weekend’s tournament has no team score, but four flights of singles (A, B, C, and D) and two flights of doubles (A and B). While each visiting team gets to enter two players into each singles draw, the Red will have the advantage of entering all nine active players in the draws. Only freshman Susan Sullivan, who is sidelined with a knee injury until November, will sit out the weekend.
The Red has had success defending home turf in previous years, and Glitz hopes the trend will continue this weekend.
“Usually we do pretty well. I like to start off the season with this tournament to get the girls back into the competitive mode,” Glitz said.
Last year, sophomore Tamara John smashed her way to the finals of the A flight singles draw as a freshman, and sophomore Catherine Duboc was crowned champion of the B singles flight in her first match playing for Cornell. The Red boasted both doubles teams in the A flight final, as well as three of the four A flight singles semifinalists.
Glitz singled out Buffalo’s top singles player, junior Andreea Noveceanu, to whom John fell in the 2005 final, as a tough contender for this year’s tournament. Although the Red lost top singles player Mollie Edinson ’06 and All-Ivy second-team doubles player Liying Wang ’06 to graduation, Glitz is confident in the strength of her returning players, particularly her go-to girls, Suda and her classmate and co-captain Kasia Preneta.
“You can always count on them when the match gets tight,” Glitz said. “They ran captain’s practices while I was away. They’re good in on-court and off-court workouts, setting the tone for the rest of the team.”
Preneta and Suda have led the team’s widely varied workouts — which include lots of singles matches, trying out different doubles combinations, lifting weights, spinning, and track workouts — with the singular focus of improving the team. Even with this busy training regime, Suda is still not satisfied.
“Yeah, we’re probably going to start Pilates soon, too,” Suda said. “We have a lot of team unity, we love each other very much. If we get as fit as we can, it’ll help down the road. It’s a great feeling, knowing your team’s got your back.”
The Red is geared up to make its hard work pay off this weekend, not just down the road.
“It’s really a fun tournament,” Suda said. “We’re all excited to get out there and show what we can do.”