March 28, 2012

TENNIS | Red Begins Ivy League Play

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The men’s and women’s tennis teams are kicking off their Ivy League seasons this Saturday, with Cornell set to face its first Ivy foe, Columbia. The men will remain in Ithaca, while the women travel down to New York City for their battles with the Lions. Both squads are eagerly anticipating the commencement of this part of the season.

“Going into Ivies we got a lot of practice outside and I think the last few matches definitely showed that,” said women’s captain junior Christine Ordway. “I think everyone seems pretty pumped and ready to go, so it should be a good four weeks.”

Though the Red (8-4) lost, 4-2, earlier in the season to the Lions (9-3), Ordway has high expectations for the match on Saturday.

“I think if everyone competes well we have a really good shot,” she said. “I want everyone to put one hundred percent out there, I mean really play their best tennis and give it their best effort. Win or lose, if everyone is giving it their best I’m happy.”

As the men’s team is one of the youngest in its conference, with no seniors and eight freshmen added to the squad this year, the Red (7-11) is eager to prove it has what it takes to win another Ivy League title.

“We have so many freshmen who haven’t had this kind of experience before,” said sophomore co-captain Evan McElwain. “They’re very eager to get out there and compete against the other Ivies to try and defend our Ivy League title. I think we’re trying to look forward to and just really focus on the Ivy matches.”

The men are confident that their opponents thus far have prepared them both going into this weekend and for the remainder of the season.

“I’m excited,” said men’s head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “I think we had a great schedule so far, one of the toughest in the Ivy League, and I think that definitely prepared us for the Ivy League season. That was the idea all along, to get us ready for this time of the year.”

The team’s schedule has included some unfamiliar opponents.

“We’ve played a ton of ranked teams and we’ve traveled a bunch,” McElwain said. “We played the Blue-Gray invitational down in Alabama; we’ve also played Ohio State and Notre Dame, [who are] really highly ranked teams. I think that’ll prepare us well for what we’re facing in the Ivies.”

Although some concerns have been raised regarding the health of the team — sophomore number one Venkat Iyer returned to practice on Wednesday after recovering from pneumonia — Tanasoiu remains optimistic in his squad’s chances against Columbia (13-2).

“We definitely need [Iyer] to play against any of the Ivy League teams, and we have a few other injuries [on our team], but every team out there has them too—we’re not going to find excuses,” he said. “We’re ready to go; we’re at a point in the season where we know exactly what people need to do.”

The team is focusing on more than just coming away from the match victorious.

“My expectations are nothing else but to transition the system that we’re trying to implement in practice and to transition that into a competitive setting,” Tanasoiu added. “We’re not trying to reinvent the tennis game. We’re just trying to keep it simple, stick with the basics and implement that into the regular season.”

Original Author: Olivia Wittels