September 10, 2007

Women’s Tennis Opens Campaign

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In a weekend that saw Justine Henin dominate the competition at the U.S. Open for her seventh grand slam win, the Cornell women’s tennis team opened the year with a dominant performance at the Cornell Fall Invitational. The Red came out strong in its first competitive showing, dominating the early rounds of both the singles and the doubles play.
Cornell made its presence known in Flight A singles, with 3-of-4 semifinal spots being filled by women from the Red. Those three women rolled their way to the semis; Elizabeth Googe played the only three-set match of the bunch against Dina Senkina of Temple. Apart from the Googe/Senkina match, the Red only lost 12 games while winning 60 on its way to the semifinals. Susan Sullivan dismissed teammate Googe in the semifinals, then prevailed over Temple’s Christine Clermont in the final, winning with a score of 6-4, 6-3.
The Red didn’t fare as well in Flight B. Every Cornell player was knocked out in the first round except Dana Cruite, who charged past Allie Schwartz of Lehigh and Cam Williams of Albany, dropping only two games to Schwartz and none to Williams, to reach the semifinals. Cruite won the semifinal with a 6-1, 6-4 performance over Josephine Bergman, then fell in the finals to Temple’s Elyse Steiner, 6-0, 6-1.
One of the strongest performances of the tournament was that of freshman Ruxandra Dumitrescu, the Flight C champion. Dumitrescu prevailed over Felicia Frazier 6-0, 6-4 in the final.
“It’s a big transition for a lot of these freshmen, getting away from home for the first time,” said head coach Rob Weiss.
Dumitrescu said that she thrived off the camaraderie of the team.
“I personally like the whole team atmosphere,” Dumitrescu said. “You’d always have a group of girls behind you for every match.”
The Red’s other representative in Flight C, Catherine Duboc, beat Victoria Tiso of Niagara before turning in a gutsy effort to outlast Paige Ford of Army 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 and reach the semifinals where she fell to Frazier.
Flight D action saw Weatherly Schwab “double bagel” Alexa Etkin of Albany 6-0, 6-0, before falling to Caitlyn Finnegan of Army in the quarterfinals. Ashley Ebbert reached the finals behind a tight 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 win over Patricia Vollmer of Army, but lost to Temple’s Teresa Stangl in the finals.
The Red’s success carried over to the doubles draws. Both doubles flights featured all-Cornell finals. In the A doubles draw, Googe and Sullivan beat juniors and teammates Tamara John and Shayna Miller 8-4. In the B draw, Dumitrescu and Ebbert prevailed 8-5 over freshmen Catherine Yoo and Melissa Orteza.
Despite Cornell’s dominance, the lack of competitive preparation affected the players’ performance.
“It’s tough with tournaments right after the summer because we haven’t been playing as much as we usually do,” John said. “In general a lot of us were a little rusty from the summer.”
Weiss was impressed with the way his players shook off the rust from the summer.
“A lot of the girls didn’t play very much over the summer,” he said. “But I thought they did extremely well, better than what I had anticipated, to be quite honest.”