August 29, 2011

W. TENNIS | With Season on Horizon, Team Chemistry Proves Crucial

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With a new school year comes a new tennis season and a chance at a new beginning. This is especially true for the women’s team this year. A fairly young team to begin with, the Red welcomes six incoming freshmen to the team.

The new additions to the team come from all over the country and include one international student-athlete. Joining the Red are freshmen Lauren Frazier from Greenville, N.C., Rosemary Li from Briarcliff, N.Y., Courtney Malinchak from Parkland, Fla., Sara Perelman from Pittsburgh, Pa., Gabby Sullivan from Brooklyn, N.Y. and Nina Turudic from Zagreb, Croatia.

“I think they are all great additions to the program,” said second-year head coach Mike Stevens.

With so many new players joining the roster, the composition of the 2011-12 squad will look very different than it has in the past.

“It’s a completely new team — we are going to be pretty young,” said sophomore Ryann Young. “But we’ve had a few practices so far, and everyone seems like they work hard, so it’s exciting.”

Cornell only has three returning starters this season, so at the moment it is unclear who will take the court for the Red when the season kicks off with the Cornell Invitational on Sept. 16. Stevens sees this as a positive that could help the team.

“It will be nice to have all the competition for the starting lineup,” he said. “It will make for a more competitive team and lineup.”

Despite all of the young blood joining the team, Stevens is not concerned about the lack of leadership after the departure of three seniors from last year’s squad.

“We have our three starters coming back from last year, so we are definitely in good shape looking forward,” he added.

Although official practices have yet to begin, the team has taken advantage of these last few weeks by getting to know each other.

“So far its been going really well,” Perelman said. “I love the team. Practices are going really well. I think the team has a lot of potential this year and I’m excited to start working hard [to live up to that potential].”

In addition to training as a team, the Cornell women have also found other ways to connect.

“We’ve been trying to hang out even off the court to get to know each other better before the season starts,” Young added.

It is this kind of commitment to teamwork that makes playing tennis at Cornell so desirable, according to Perelman, who cited the squad’s camaraderie as a key factor that influenced her decision to come play for the Red.

“The team itself [was a reason I wanted to come play at Cornell],” she said. “Even though only four of them are returning players, I got a really good feel for team chemistry, how they work together and the work ethic of the team.”

“When we would travel to tournaments we would be stuck in a bus together for six hours,” Young added. “So everyone bonded that way.”

Another factor that contributed to Perelman’s decision to join the Red was the opportunity to play for Stevens.

“I looked at a bunch of the Ivies and when I came on my visit to Cornell, I really liked the coach,” she said. “[Stevens] was really the most straightforward and honest, and he really has a vision of what he wants the team to do in the next couple of years.”

Apparently, Stevens’ attitude is contagious.

“Everyone seems really excited about playing [this season],” Young said.

The Red’s new players are already joining in on the camaraderie as well.

“I really hope we can improve — do a lot better than we have in the past,” Perelman said. “I’m looking forward to helping the team.”

Original Author: Dani Abada