By OLIVIA WITTELS
The Cornell men and women’s tennis teams are approaching the end of their fall seasons, with both squads gearing up for the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (USTA/ITA) Northeast Regional Championships this weekend. The men are traveling down to New Haven, where Yale is hosting the tournament; the women will travel to Cambridge to compete at Harvard. Results this weekend determine which players will qualify for the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships from Nov. 7-10 at the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
More than 100 players from over 40 schools around the Northeast will compete at Regionals, including players from all eight Ivy League schools. The Red is sending eight players to the tournament: six main draw singles, two qualifying singles, and three doubles teams. Men’s head coach Silviu Tanasoiu believes the exposure to other Ivies is an opportunity that the team can certainly benefit from, particularly its newest recruits.
“It will be a good opportunity for the freshmen to measure themselves against some of the toughest competition that they’ve faced in their college careers so far and for us to get a good glimpse of where we stand in comparison to all the other schools at this point,” Tanasoiu said. “There are very many new freshmen that joined the league and we’ll have an opportunity to see them and maybe even compete against them. [This] gives us … another good chance to test ourselves, but also scout the opposition and see how we need to prepare.”
Junior captain Sam Fleck added that facing foes from the Ivy League also benefits the Red in terms of competing against other players at a similar level.
“Obviously all the Ivy League teams are at an extremely similar standard. You play a lot of matches and you play people at a similar level to you, which is great,” Fleck said. “It’s also nice to see how the other Ivy League teams are doing, like how their new recruits are. Although it’s very early in the season, it’s nice to play some competitive matches against other Ivy League teams to set yourself up for the matches we’ll play against them in the spring.”
Regionals will also provide the Red with an opportunity to showcase some of the new doubles pairings it has been working on this season.
“We’re going in with some of the pairs that we think will have a good chance to make our lineup … and we’re very interested to see how the chemistry is going to work during this tournament,” Tanasoiu said. Fleck added that this mixing and matching of pairings will give the Red an idea of where it stands in relation to the rest of the pack. “This year, we’ve mixed up the doubles teams a bit, so it will be a good chance to see how we do, how we stack up against the competition in doubles,” Fleck said.
One word that Cornell players will have on the back of their minds this weekend is discipline.
“Obviously, when you come in as a freshman you tend to be fairly raw and not used to playing so often, and playing for a team and that kind of thing,” Fleck said. “I think one thing that people have been learning as the tournaments have gone on is the level of discipline required … and we hope that will continue to improve in the future.”
Tanasoiu emphasized that in his eyes, discipline correlates with the Red’s efficiency both on and off the court.
“Discipline to me is just a way of being efficient, and being very well organized in everything we do. If it’s how we approach practice, and the mindset of how we build points, … if it is school, their off the court schedule — discipline is probably a word that, in my opinion, just resonates with … being really efficient and making the most of what you have available,” Tanasoiu said.
On the women’s side, only half as many Cornell players are attending the tournament, but senior captain Ryann Young emphasized that the four women — herself, junior Lauren Frazier, and freshmen Marika Cusick and Alex D’Ascenzo — have high expectations for themselves this weekend.
“[Our expectations are] competing with the other teams, going far in the draw, [and] making a name for ourselves early in the year,” Young said. “Especially the freshmen, they haven’t played in a dual season, so just proving themselves from the start. Especially because the teams that we’re playing this weekend, we’re going to be playing in the spring.”
Young agrees that Regionals provides a great opportunity for the Red to see where it stacks up against the other teams in its conference.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good fall so far. We’ll see a lot this weekend how we match up against the other schools,” Young said. “[We can gain] experience, especially under the pressure of playing other Ivy League schools. And knowing that we can compete with them — hopefully it will carry over so that we can have a great season and have a winning record.”