January 29, 2007

Women’s Tennis Takes A, B and C Flight Titles

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What are the odds that elements of the most shocking upset of the Australian Open would echo in a college tournament on another continent? Serena Williams pummeled Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2, in Friday’s final, and Cornell sophomore Elizabeth Googe dispatched Temple’s Yuri Kurashima in almost identical fashion yesterday, 6-1, 6-1, to capture the Flight A singles title of the Cornell Winter Invitational.

For its first competition since the Penn State Invitational in November, the women’s tennis team defended its home turf against Columbia, Temple, Bucknell, Binghamton and Army in the annual tournament, which began Friday and concluded on Sunday.

“I think I played my best tennis [this year during] this tournament, which is kind of surprising coming after the break,” Googe said. “Each match I got better.”

Googe credits the win to her more aggressive play, an opinion confirmed by head coach Laura Glitz.

“[Googe has] learned that she needs to attack [to win] — to work the court and follow it up,” Glitz said.

The Flight A champion was not the only one to snatch victory. The Red topped the A, B and C singles flights. “Everybody played well in singles,” Glitz said. “I was really pleased with that.”

Freshman Susan Sullivan had a banner weekend in her college tennis debut after recovering from knee surgery for the past year. Sullivan and senior co-captain Kasia Preneta made it to the finals of the Flight B doubles bracket. Though the pair lost to Columbia’s Sydney Murray and Lauren Shearer, 8-1, Sullivan found more success in singles.

Sullivan took the Flight C crown by defeating Anna Varnay of Columbia, 7-6, 6-0. Varnay jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, but Sullivan staged a comeback and took the set in a tiebreaker. Sullivan then charged through the second set, blanking the frustrated Varnay to take the set, 6-0, and the match.

“[Varnay] was kind of peaking in the beginning, and once I got going, she was getting out of rhythm,” Sullivan said. “I was getting more comfortable. I was just so tight [in the beginning of the match]. I had to focus on getting each ball back instead of trying to go for winners.”

The last match of the day was a rematch of last year’s Flight B final — with the same results. Senior co-captain Nisha Suda outlasted her sister, sophomore Nina Suda of Columbia, 6-2, 7-6 (3), to win the Flight B title for the third year in a row and close out a long weekend of tennis.

“I knew [Nina] was a lot more tired than I was,” Nisha said. “You could see she was exhausted.”

Nina started slowly, and Nisha soon took the first set. Nisha held an early 4-1 lead for the Red, but her sister caught up. The two then kept trading games to take the lengthy set to a tiebreaker.

“What makes the difference is that I have two more years of experience,” Nisha said. “That’s why I won the match … Last year [Nina] was a freshman, so she was a little nervous. This year she had more variety to her game. She tried a lot of things. But I’ve played so much that I could see what was coming.”

By the end of the tournament, the Red came home with three of four singles titles, having entered no one in Flight D.

Compared to its success in the singles brackets, doubles were disappointing for the Red. Glitz, however, is hesitant to change the pairings again.

“They are good combinations right now. We just need to keep working [on improving doubles play],” Glitz said. “To win our dual matches coming up and [against] the Ivies, we need to win doubles.”