No strangers to inclement weather, the Cornell women’s tennis team was not fazed when heavy snow cancelled its first match of the ECAC Indoor Conference Championships in Cambridge. While the Red did not come away with any team hardware, the team’s performance and vitality did impress.
Originally slated to open up against Dartmouth (7-0) — eventual winners of the tournament — on Friday, the Red (3-3) instead kicked off competition against another Ivy League powerhouse, Harvard (4-4), on Saturday for its ECAC opener.
Cornell earned a point when seniors Alexandra D’Ascenzo and Marika Cusick won from the No. 1 doubles position and juniors Madison Stevens and Lizzie Stewart got the win from the No. 3 spot.
In the singles matches, D’Ascenzo and junior Priyanka Shah both rallied to earn victories for the Red, but the Crimson proved too much to handle as it won the other four matches. Despite a tough battle, the Red eventually succumbed to the Crimson in a 4-3 loss.
The Red bounced back on Sunday to come away with the upset against Princeton (4-4), who claimed a 4-2 victory over Columbia on Saturday. Princeton was the tournament’s top seed, as well as the defending ECAC and Ivy League champions.
Cornell got off to a solid start with a victory in the doubles matches from the pair of Shah and sophomore Mariko Iinuma who were playing in the No. 2 position, but the Tigers went on to win the other two doubles matches and the match’s opening point.
Nevertheless, the Red went on to win four out of the five singles matches on its way to defeating the Tigers. Cusick, D’Ascenzo, Shah and Stewart all won their matches to give the Red the victory. This was the Red’s first victory over the Tigers since 1996.
Although Cornell did not win the tournament, the team clearly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Ivy League.
“I think we have a lot of positives to take away,” Shah said. “Playing Princeton on Sunday, they’ve been defending [Ivy League] champions for three years, so that was just a huge win. We have a lot of momentum going into the season.”
Shah went on to say that the team is “using that confidence as motivation” and believes that the Red can use this to win the Ivy’s this year.
The Red will get a chance to see how it stacks up in the national level as the team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on Wichita State (4-1) and the University of Arkansas (5-2).
Cornell faced Wichita State once on Jan. 29 and will be looking for redemption for the 4-1 loss against the Shockers.
“We have never played Arkansas before, and it is always fun to play a new team and play competitors that we have never faced before,” D’Ascenzo said. “After our last few weeks of practice and our success this past weekend, I think that we are going into these matches with a lot more confidence and am excited to see how it goes.”
The Red will face off against the Shockers and the Razorbacks on Monday at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST, respectively.