March 14, 2012

TENNIS | Red Heads South Over Break to Face New Competition

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Cornell tennis does not have much of a vacation this Spring Break, as the men and women are set to play three matches over the course of the week. On Friday, the men face Penn State at home, then head to Virginia for matches against Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth. Men’s head coach Silviu Tanasoiu said he is undaunted by the Red’s tough week ahead.

“We had three great weeks of practice,” he said. “I feel like overall the team is coming together — we’re starting to compete on the same page. My expectation is to transition everything we’ve worked on during practice into these matches.”

Members of the team expressed similar sentiments.

“I think we’re just looking to just gain confidence,” said sophomore co-captain Evan McElwain. “We’re kind of trying to change the tide of our season. It started out a little rough, but I think we’re staring to pick things up and … gain some confidence going into Ivies.”

The strong competition will give the squad a better understanding of its place in the collegiate tennis circut, Tanasoiu said.

“[Virginia Commonwealth] is one of the best teams that we have the entire season,” he said. “Knowing exactly where we stand against them [will be helpful] in preparation for the Ivy League season.”

When the men’s team is not competing, they will be practicing, focusing on improving their outdoor play.

“It’s a pretty big adjustment coming from indoor tennis to outdoor,” McElwain said. “It’s a lot slower paced and the points are longer. It’s a bit more of a grind, so getting in that mindset and getting more patient [is] what we’ll be focusing on mostly in practice.”

“This is going to be our chance to train the entire week on a different surface in a different climate and in different conditions,” Tanasoiu said. “I’m looking forward to practicing as many times outdoors as we can during this week.”

The women’s team will also have the opportunity to train in outdoor conditions. The Red will go to North Carolina for its first match of the week, to face UNC Wilmington. The squad then travels to South Carolina for matches against the College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina University.

Junior captain Christine Ordway discussed the advantages to playing in conditions different from those at Cornell’s Reis Tennis Center.

“It’ll be really good exposure to outdoor tennis,” she said. “It will be good to play outside in the wind, and get used to the heat, the sun and everything that goes with that.”

The caliber of the women’s opponents this week is certainly high, but head coach Mike Stevens thinks the matches will be beneficial in preparing for the upcoming season.

“Going down there and playing three very good opponents will be very good for the team,” he said. “Three opponents in the same week should give [us] the match play that they need to be all set for the Ivy season. We’re just looking forward to going down there and getting better for the rest of our upcoming matches.”

The women’s team will get exposed to a range of opponents and play teams that they are less used to facing.

“This will be one of our first matches against a nationally ranked team besides ECACs,” Ordway said. “That will be a good way for us to test ourselves against obviously some very, very good players. If we got a win against either College of Charleston or UNC Wilmington that’d be huge for our program and that’d be a great way to head into Ivies.”

Original Author: Olivia Wittels