February 17, 2009

Women’s Tennis Finishes Near Back of Pack at Championships

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[img_assist|nid=35181|title=Eye on the prize|desc=The women’s tennis team entered the ECAC Indoor Championships seeded sixth and finished the tournament in sixth.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]According to freshman Stephanie Kent, “the score didn’t reflect the level of play.”
Sophomore Ruxandra Dumitrescu and senior Shayna Miller each dropped their first sets against the Bears, 6-2, before losing their second sets on tiebreakers, 7-6 (2). Gut-wrenching losses became a theme over the weekend.
“We learned that any match can go either way,” Miller said. “We need to work for every point because that point could potentially decide the match.”
Cornell (3-2, 0-0 ECAC) rebounded on Saturday, defeating seventh-seeded Columbia, 6-1. No one epitomized that resilience more than junior Natalia Sanchez who claimed a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over sophomore Natasha Makarova after struggling through her first set. Miller also dropped her first set, 3-6, before recovering for a 6-2, 6-3, triumph. Kent scored an impressive win over sophomore Stephanie Zilberman 7-6 (5), 6-4. Senior Elizabeth Googe battled to win a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 thriller over freshman Nicole Stanziola.
“When my match split sets, we were up 3-1 in the overall team score,” Googe said. “Shayna, Stephanie and Natalia’s matches were also close, so I knew that it could easily come down to my match to clinch the win. I jumped out to a pretty big lead in the third set and was able to use that momentum to close it out 6-2.”
Dumitrescu, who played well throughout the tournament, provided Cornell’s most decisive victory, defeating junior Carling Donovan, 6-0, 6-2.
The Red captured two of three doubles matches from its in-state opponents. The Sanchez-Kent pairing coasted to an 8-3 win over Makarova and Donovan while Dumitrescu teamed up with senior Catherine Duboc to defeat Stanziola and senior Nina Suda by an identical 8-3 score. The Miller-Googe tandem was less fortunate in dropping a hard-fought contest, 8-6.
On Sunday, Cornell fell to Harvard, 6-1. Sanchez dropped a 6-0, 6-1 decision to 2007-08 All-Ivy League selection, senior Beier Ko. Kent and Googe faltered as well, losing 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4, 6-3, respectively. The Red shined brightest at the bottom of the bracket, as sophomore Leah Seyburn recorded Cornell’s only singles triumph of the day. After splitting her first two sets with freshman Caroline Davis, Seyburn recorded a 10-8 victory in the final set to close out the match. Miller and Dumitrescu both fell in close contests. Later, Miller and Googe rebounded from their loss on Saturday and turned in a strong performance en route to an 8-4 victory.
While hardly satisfied with her team’s performance, Miller provided an optimistic outlook for the young season.
“We have the potential to do extremely well during Ivy League season,” Miller said. “We just need to keep preparing ourselves to do so. No match is out of reach for us. We just need to keep working hard to ensure that we are as ready as we can be for our first Ivy League match.”
Kent took it one step further. The tournament “only proved that we can take the Ivy League title if we step up a little bit.”