October 18, 2011

W. TENNIS | Leadership Without Captains

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Without any seniors — or captains — it might seem like the women’s tennis team is in dire need of a leader. In previous years, normally one or two women serve as the squad’s guiding forces. Ruxandra Dumitrescu ’11 and Sinziana Chis ’11 were the team’s most recent captains. Sophomore Ryann Young noted the benefits of joining the team last year with senior leaders.“It was great because they were always the people we could go to if we had any questions,” she said. “They were our captains, but they were also our close friends.”Young does not, however, oppose head coach Mike Stevens’ choice to refrain from naming captains.“I sort of like it right now because it doesn’t really matter,” Young said. “We have the older girls, the juniors, so it doesn’t really affect us because we respect the upperclassmen as captains.”She said that although the juniors “have had to step up a lot this year,” it was also necessary for the sophomores to take on a leadership position as well.  “[Returning players have] the role of keeping [the freshmen] focused, and trying to set a good example,” Young said. “We have this big thing on our team: When someone’s playing, if you’re not cheering for them that’s a big deal. We set an example by [showing the freshmen] how to support their teammates.”The newcomers seem to have received the message. Freshman Sara Perelman understands that the team counts on its veteran players to exemplify what it means to be a college athlete.“All of the retuning players acted as captains and stepped in that leadership role,” she said. “They’ve made me and all of the freshmen feel really welcome and clear of what our goals are. Right from the beginning they showed a strong work ethic.”Perelman also agreed with Young that a lack of captains is not necessarily a negative for the women, especially for the team’s recent additions.“I like it the way it is because [having no captains] puts more responsibility on us as freshmen to kind of step up instead of having someone tell us exactly what to do,” Perelman said.Stevens’ decision to withhold the honor this year is based on the head coach’s belief that the women have to demonstrate that they deserve the position. “[It wouldn’t be fair to] just get it because they’re upperclassmen,” Stevens said. “I told the women on the team that the [captaincy] is something that needs to be earned and this fall we would see who steps up and leads the team the best.”Even without official titles, the squad’s veteran players have risen to the occasion. With the ITA Regional beginning this weekend at Yale, the Red’s leaders have demonstrated the tactics and attitude necessary for the team to be successful against its competition, according to Stevens. Six players from Cornell qualified for regionals, as three freshmen will join three upperclassmen to travel to New Haven, Conn. for the tournament.As of now, Stevens is content with the strong influence and commendable example that the sophomores and juniors have provided through the fall season, and is confident the team is moving in the right direction.

“I expect all the players to be successful in Regionals,” he said. “I expect good things from our players. They’ve practiced a lot, and they deserve to do well.”

The team understands that it has a tough weekend ahead and hopes to be able to rise to the occasion and come away from the weekend with favorable results.“We really need to compete hard and work for every point, becaues the competition is going to be difficult, especially since the top players in the region compete in this tournmanet,” Young said.

Original Author: Olivia Wittels