April 9, 2007

Track Teams Qualify Three for Regionals

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Last Friday it was the women’s tennis team’s turn to step into the role of giant-killer, as the women took down Harvard, 5-2, at Reis Tennis Center — defeating the Crimson for the first time in Cornell history — before defeating Dartmouth in a 4-3 nail-biter on Saturday. The men’s team, which beat Harvard last year for the first time in 46 meetings, dropped both of its matches to the Crimson and the Green on the road this weekend.
“Going into the Harvard match, we were all prepared to do the best that we could do,” said women’s senior co-captain Kasia Preneta. “After our first Ivy win of 6-1 against Columbia, we were all psyched to keep winning. Such a definitive win for our first match definitely set the tone. We’ve all been practicing intensely this semester and working hard. We didn’t let the stigma of ‘Harvard’ intimidate us. We went out there, played our games, and kept telling ourselves this was definitely possible.”
Until the Red snapped the Crimson’s 32-match Ivy winning streak, Harvard had not lost since April 12, 2002, when Penn prevailed, 5-2.
The Red, now 10-2 (3-0 Ivy), wasted no time in challenging Harvard, as it won the closely-contested doubles point. At No. 1 doubles, sophomores Catherine Duboc and Elizabeth Googe fell to Beier Ko and Lena Litvak, 8-1, while their classmates Tammy John and Shayna Miller cruised to an 8-3 victory over Julia Forgie and Vilsa Curto at No. 3.
In the deciding doubles match, Preneta and junior Dana Cruite outlasted Prehti Mukundian and Elizabeth Brook to take the set in a tiebreak, 9-8 (5).
“We were close in the doubles point,” said Harvard head coach Gordon Graham. “Then the No. 2 Cornell team really turned it around.”
After securing the early lead, the singles’ players began their matches with fire and determination. At No. 3 singles, John thoroughly dismantled Mukundian, 6-1, 6-2. Cruite soon joined her off the court after easily defeating Forgie, 6-2, 6-0 at fifth singles. No. 1 singles player Googe narrowly lost to Ko in a third set, 7-6, 4-6, (10-7), giving Harvard its first point of the match.
Senior co-captain Nisha Suda was on a roll at fourth singles as she defeated Brook, 6-4, 6-1, and immediately celebrated the team’s win by meeting head coach Laura Glitz at the net for a hug. With the match already in Cornell’s pocket, Litvak cut short Preneta’s comeback at No. 2 singles, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Miller chalked up the Red’s final win of the day at sixth singles, coming back to defeat Curto 5-7, 6-1, (10-8).
“After Harvard, we knew we had to focus to beat Dartmouth,” Preneta said. “They’ve improved since last year, and we knew we couldn’t let Friday’s win get to our heads.”
Dartmouth started the match by sweeping all three doubles matches to go up 1-0, but, as Preneta attested, the Red was not deterred.
“Starting out slow and losing the doubles point made us come out twice as aggressively in singles,” Preneta said. “Each of our players gave it their all, as you can see from the scores, and in the end we had that extra mental toughness and that extra fitness that we’ve been working on to beat Dartmouth.”
Cruite dropped her No. 5 singles match to Jesse Adler, 6-3, 6-2, but Googe and Preneta quickly leveled the match at 2-2 by defeating Megan Zebroski, 6-2, 6-2, and Mary Beth Winingham, 6-3, 6-3, at first and second singles, respectively. John dug deep at No. 3 singles to close out her match against Kerry Snow in a tense second-set tiebreaker, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Soon after, however, Dartmouth’s Carley Markovitz blocked Miller’s attempt to push their No. 6 singles match to a third set, defeating Miller 6-2, 7-6 (7) and placing tremendous pressure on Suda and her opponent Lindsay Winingham at third singles. Suda ultimately prevailed, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, giving the Red and its fans much to be happy about.
“The cheering on our part was also out-of-control loud and we all came together to support Nisha in the determining match at the end,” Preneta said. “She fed off it and came through. After the match, we all couldn’t stop smiling. We’re pumped for next weekend’s matches!”
“I told the team after the Dartmouth win that I have never been prouder of any team I have ever coached than I was this weekend,” Glitz said. “They stepped up to the plate and fought so hard, and that’s what it’s all about. All year we have strong distance runners and traditionally outperforms the Red in distance events.
“We tried to run very hard from the gun this time,” Hatch said. “We ran well … but I’m most disappointed with the finish. I was in good position to take the lead with 150 [meters] left, but my legs just ran out.”
Other freshmen posting successful results included Duane Teixeira, who surprisingly bested all-conference Cornell juniors Muhammad Halim and Rayon Taylor to win the triple jump — qualifying for IC4As with a mark of 48-0. In the discus, freshman Scott Jaffee was Cornell’s top finisher at second place with a score of 150-9.
The women, meanwhile, won a total of 13 events. Senior tri-captain Morgan Uceny was unbothered by the weather as she surprisingly dominated the 1500 meter event in her first-ever try, ousting Penn junior and Nationals-qualifier Stacy Kim as she won by over six seconds.
“I think the weather is used as an excuse a lot … we have actually competed in much worse conditions,” Uceny said. “If you stay mentally tough, it is an advantage. I just tried to stay on pace with [Kim] most of the way, and then broke away with about 400 [meters] to go.”
Other noteworthy winners for the women’s team included sophomores Jeomi Maduka — who won the long-jump and triple jump — and Maria Matos, who won the discus at 163-1. Both young players are having breakout seasons for the Red thus far and have qualified for NCAA Regionals.
Seniors Stephanie King, Nyam Kagwima, and tri-captain Sarah Wilfred also won events for the Red, taking the 100 hurdles, 800 meters, and high-jump, respectively.