October 3, 2012

TENNIS | Squads Use Tournament Play to Prepare for Ivy Foes

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After a two-week hiatus, the men’s tennis team is back in action this weekend for the Columbia Invitational. The Red did not perform as well as it would have liked in its last tournament at the Farnsworth Invitational, but the squad has worked tirelessly these past few weeks to tune up its game.

“I do expect them in competitive department to perform better than we have at Princeton,” said head coach Silviu Tanasoiu. “We’ve had two weeks of training compared to the Princeton tournament and I feel like we’ve made improvements … I’m hopeful that it’s going to reflect in the matches this upcoming weekend.”

“As a team we hope to do better than we did last time at Princeton,” added sophomore co-captain Sam Fleck. “I feel like we should be able to do that. We’ve worked hard in training the last couple of weeks; we’ve all been playing much better [and] getting used to the indoor courts.”

The courts at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center — where the Columbia team plays — are a slightly different surface than the Red practices on, which is a factor the team has taken into consideration while preparing for the tournament.

“The indoor court there is slightly slower than the ones at Cornell, so that favors people who can make more balls but hit less winners,” Fleck said. “Our team’s made up of a lot of consistent players, but none of us are that big, so it should probably favor a lot of the guys.”

Cornell’s first official Ivy League match of the year is against Columbia (03/30/13), thus Tanasoiu noted that this tournament will provide the team with its “only opportunity to compete on their courts and kind of get a feel for their surface,” a scenario which he hopes will benefit the Red later in the season.

“Even though … we’re playing indoor on a surface that we’re not practicing very often on, it’s going to be a good chance for us to compete against Columbia, who’s going to be a contender [for the Ivy League Title],” Tanasoiu said. “The majority of the teams competing in the tournament (including Dartmouth, Princeton, and Penn) are from the Ivy League, so it’s a chance for us to see where we are compared to them.”

The women’s tournament this weekend, the USTA Collegiate Invitational, will also provide an opportunity for the ladies to see where they stand among their rivals.

“There’s a lot of Ivy League schools which are coming to this tournament, so it’ll be great for us to see how we’re doing in comparison to them,” said senior co-captain Christine Ordway.

“There are about 20 teams in the tournament [and] the teams are from all up and down the east coast,” said head coach Mike Stevens. “We don’t have any one team that we’re setting our sights on. The competition’s going to be very good, which is what we want to see how we’re [doing] and what we need to improve upon.”

In practice this week, each of the women is working on different things.

“[Tennis] is such an individual sport within itself, so every player has different strengths and different weaknesses in both singles and doubles,” Stevens said. “We’re working with each of the players individually, as well as in the team practices, according to what they need to work on the most for them to be successful.”

Ordway did note, however, that one of the strategies the Red has been collectively practicing is maintaining its intensity during every rally.

“Play every ball — [that’s] one of the things we’ve been working on in practice,” she siad. “[We’re] making sure everyone is focused every point and controlling the things that we can control. I think that’s something that the team overall has been working on as a group and is something we’re looking forward to seeing this weekend help us.”

The squad begins competing Saturday morning in both singles and doubles; the finals are scheduled for two days later.

“We certainly hope to have many of the women left on Monday competing in the finals,” Stevens said. “That would certainly be one of our goals as a team, and it’s going to be great if we’re able to do that.”

Original Author: Olivia Wittels