November 13, 2007

W. Tennis Edged by Penn State

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The tennis season does not officially begin until the first day of spring classes, but as usual, the tennis teams began their year with a series of individual competition tournaments. Newly-hired women’s coach, Rob Weiss, has already accompanied groups of Cornell players to matches around the East Coast and watched them compete. But on Saturday, Weiss was courtside at University Park for a new experience: watching his players put out a team effort against Penn State in the Red’s first dual trial of the year.
The Red won the doubles point and came close to an overall win but the Nittany Lions went 4-2 in singles and pulled the 4-3 result to their favor. Cornell was not discouraged by this early result.
“It was our first dual match of the fall,” said junior co-captain Shayna Miller. “As our first dual match everyone played pretty well. There are things that everyone is going to have to work on. But we are going to be practicing and getting ready for our season in the spring.”
Cornell was down 2-3 in singles when upperclassman and new recruits alike gathered to watch freshman Ruxandra Dumitrescu’s sixth-singles match against Penn State’s Leyla Morzan. Dumitrescu won the opening set, 6-3, but the Penn State junior reversed that outcome in the next two sets, taking the match and giving her side the day’s overall win.
Although Dumitrescu had several notable performances earlier this year at individual competition events, she lost in the third doubles slot alongside junior Catherine Duboc.
“She did really well in the D-flight singles at the New York tournament,” said junior co-captain Shayna Miller.
But for Dumitrescu and her classmates (Sinziana Chis, Kei Kinoshita, and Melissa Orteza), it was their first taste of college tennis dual bouts.
“It is a totally different feeling, playing in a dual match than it is playing in a tournament,” Miller said. “You feel like your part has a lot more weight on it.”
Cornell did take the doubles division. The familiar partnership of junior Elizabeth Googe and sophomore Susan Sullivan won first doubles, 8-5.
Familiarity was not at work, however, when Miller joined freshmen Sinziana Chis for their first-ever doubles match. The duo clinched a Cornell point by going 8-4 in the second doubles slot.
“It was the first time I played with her, ever, and I think we played really well together,” Miller said. “We just went out there and played our best. Our game plan was to be more aggressive then the other side and control the net. And it worked.”
Freshmen played an unusually large role at University Park, playing for the Red in two-thirds of Saturday’s matches. This was partly because several upperclassmen could not make the non-season event.
“A lot of players could not make it that weekend” said senior co-captain Dana Cruite. Cruite, who was among the absentees, went on to say that obligations relating to post-graduation plans kept several of the players, who would usually be in the matchup, back in Ithaca.
Cornell did not play any seniors on Saturday and the freshmens’ results will prove determinative in the Red’s regular season, which begins in the first week of next semester. After all, Cornell went 3-3 on Saturday in matches where its freshmen played.
“Overall the freshmen definitely pulled their weight,” Miller said. “I think they’ll be a great asset for our team this season.”