September 7, 2007

W. Tennis Hosts Fall Invitational

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With the final rounds of the U.S. Open about to be served up in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., most tennis aficionados may have their attention directed to Queens, N.Y., this weekend. Ithaca will also be host to some on-court attractions, though, as Cornell launches its annual Fall Invitational today at the Ries Tennis Center.
The wo­men’s side, directed for the first time by new head coach Rob Weiss, will start off the racquet action this year with a set of matches that start tonight and continue through Sunday. Cornell will host teams from Army, Albany, Colgate, LeHigh, Niagra and Temple.
As a season opener, the non-conference invitational is hardly as pivotal to the Red’s campaign as an Ivy League matchup, but it does serve as a bellwether of how the Red may fare in the season.
“The Fall Invitational is important from the standpoint of getting a feel for our players and how they hold up under stress,” Weiss said.
Players said the group of six competitor schools will pose a field of moderate difficulty to the Red who went 10-6 last year in a season studded by tough Ivy competition.
“Of those schools, I would say that Temple and Army may be the strongest,” Weiss said.
Senior co-captain Dana Cruite is upbeat about the potential results of the tournament.
“We expect to be pretty dominant this weekend,” she said. “Since I’ve been here, Cornell always wins the majority of the flights, singles and doubles.”
In his statement, Weiss agreed, but added a slight warning.
“Having the field be of moderate strength presents an opportunity for our kids to win matches, build confidence,” he said. “On the other hand, it may give the kids a false sense of where they really are with their games and fitness levels.”
The tournament will also open an opportunity for Weiss, who replaced Laura Glitz as the Red’s head coach in early August, to see the pulse of his newly adopted team. This initial observation will be especially important to Weiss as he is barred by NCAA and Ivy League regulations from holding practices this early in the season.
“Having not seen any of the young women play competitively, it will be an eye opener for me this coming weekend,” Weiss said. “I will then formulate a training plan for the rest of the season based on what I see during the event.”
Upperclassmen may stand with Weiss on the sideline while he watches the Red’s six-member contingent of freshmen recruits. Kei Kinoshita, Sinziana Chris, Ruxandra Dumitrescu, Catherine Yoo, Melissa Orteza and Anna Sofine, are all slated to play competitively over the weekend.
The freshmen joined the rest of the Red in fitness sessions and captain’s practices led by Cruite and senior co-captain Shayna Miller.
“[The team has] been doing a lot of fitness,” Cruite said. “We’ve had two 6 a.m. workouts, one was on the track, the other on the stadium. I think for right now, all of our training is helping to get everyone back into the swing of things — helping us get used to the intensity level of being in season.”
Both Cruite and Weiss noted how important it will be to get in practice ahead of the start of Ivy competition that begins next semester. Last year, Cornell followed a near sweep of Columbia with its first win over Harvard before stumbling against the remaining Ancient Eight.
Weiss suggested there were no limits to the Red’s success this year.
“I am hopeful they will stay hungry for success throughout the year as we strive for an Ivy title,” he said.