October 1, 2013

W. TENNIS | Cornell Prepares to Face Midwest in Akron Invite

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The Cornell women’s tennis team heads to Akron, Ohio this weekend to play in the Akron Invitational. The tournament begins on Oct. 4, and Cornell is set to face the University of Akron as well as Ohio State and West Virginia.

The Red has had a week off since its last tournament, the Cissie Leary Invitational, where the doubles team of sophomore Dena Tanenbaum and freshman Alexandra D’Ascenzo earned the runner up title in the final against Columbia. The team has definitely taken advantage of the break, however. Head coach Mike Stevens said he has been using practice to work on individual skills and solidify some match-play strategies, as well as helping the team adjust to the mindset of genuine intercollegiate competition.

“Over the past week, we’ve been … making [our practice time] more realistic. [We’ve been] dividing ourselves into teams and playing against each other, so it can be like a real-life match,” senior captain Ryann Young said. “We feel a little bit of pressure, like we’d experience in a match. I think our coach is just stressing a lot of feeling like it’s a real-life situation in practice.”

Junior Sara Perelman added that the team has focused on making practice sessions into more competitive settings, as well as improving the physical aspects of its game.

“For the past week, we’ve focused a lot more on strength and conditioning,” she said. “Since we had the week off, we felt like it was okay to push ourselves more this week. We’ve been doing a lot more point play because we felt like at Penn we were a little rusty on the actual mental toughness aspect. So we’ve been doing a lot more set play and doing a lot of splitting up into smaller teams in practices to make it more realistic.”

Perelman said that, this week, the coaches have also emphasized the importance of maintaining upbeat body language on court.

“The coaches are really stressing positive attitudes. [They said it is important to] never be able to tell if you’re winning or losing while you’re playing,” she said.

While the Red has a smaller roster this year with only ten women on the squad, this is not something Young believes will influence the team’s chances in Akron or in the overall season.

Photo: Connor Archard / Sun Senior PhotographerThe Red has been focusing on improving its mindset under pressure by practicing in competition-like settings.