April 9, 2007

W. Tennis Earns First Win Against Harvard; Men Fall

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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 been working hard, and when you see it paying off on the court, it’s awesome.”
The men have also had a fair amount of success this year, but Harvard was in the zone Friday, sweeping every singles and doubles match to win 7-0. The Red’s 4-3 loss to Dartmouth came down to a few crucial points in close matches.
“The matches were really tough,” said sophomore Kyle Doppelt. “Dartmouth played with a lot of energy, and Harvard seemed to be finding their stride.”
Against the Green, Dartmouth took the doubles point, as senior tri-captain Dan Brous and sophomore Josh Goldstein were the only pair to win for the Red at No. 3 doubles, 8-3. Senior co-captain Josh Raff and junior Rory Heggie battled through their three matches, but ultimately fell to Dartmouth, as did sophomor Peter Kung.
Senior co-captain Nick Brunner posted a solid win at No. 1 singles, beating David Waslen 6-0, 6-3. Freshman Jonathan Fife showed his grit in a three-setter against Justin Tzou at fourth singles, which Fife took 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Goldstein also prevailed in a three-set match against Ari Gayer at sixth singles, winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
“In the Dartmouth match, Rory was cramping and had stomach problems but nearly came back from being down 4-0 in the third,” Doppelt said. “If he pulled it off, it would have been the most incredible match ever, but his body just gave up on him. The team is obviously upset, but we all know there’s still a lot of tennis to be played. We play Brown at home on Friday, and we have a major grudge with them. To beat them this weekend would be huge.”