After sweeping Binghamton this past weekend, the Cornell women’s tennis team improved its winning streak to six in a row. Now, the team heads toward Ivy League play when it hosts Columbia on Saturday.
With the 7-0 victory over the Bearcats, the Red (10-4) has now won seven straight matches against Binghamton. Cornell has also taken 17 of the 19 matches the two central New York foes have played.
“All of the women came out extremely focused and stuck to the game plan in both singles and doubles,” said head coach Mike Stevens. “Their confidence is very high after the wins that we have had this year.”
The Red only dropped one set on the afternoon, which occurred in the lone competitive match. Top-seeded senior Marika Cusick lost her first set 6-3, but she came back to win the next two.
“It was a close match, but everyone has a great number one player no matter what kind of team they have,” Stevens said. “She is playing well, and she is confident, and ultimately, she is looking forward to our upcoming matches.”
In the other five singles matches, Cornell dropped just nine games overall, and sophomore Mariko Linuma and junior Madison Stevens each won their respective matches 6-0, 6-1.
With her victory in the third slot, junior Priyanka Shah improved her personal record to 10-1 in non-conference play.
The Red was just as dominant in the doubles portion of the match, winning two of the three matches 6-0.
“I thought that it was a really good final match for us right before the Ivy League,” Cusick said. “I think that everybody took care of their business and played really solid, so I think that should translate well heading into our first Ivy match on Saturday.”
Cornell will now focus on Ivy League play, when the team hosts in-state opponent Columbia on April 1. Last season, the Red finished 4-3 in the league, and the lineup is quite similar this as it was last year heading into the Ancient Eight portion of its schedule.
“I think that we are all really excited because Columbia is probably our biggest rival,” said senior Alex D’Ascenzo of this coming weekend’s match. “We always play them first, and there is always a lot of intensity; so going into it, we are just preparing as much as we can.”
The Red has struggled recently against the Lions, having lost three of its past four meetings with its New York City rival. However the group is confident that this time around the results will be different due to its winning streak and the presence of upperclassmen throughout the lineup.
“We are just trying to take it one match at a time,” Cusick said. “Especially during Ivy League play, it is important not to get too ahead of ourselves. We are always looking to go out there and play as solidly and fearlessly as we can.”
This year’s version of Columbia’s lineup does seems a bit more vulnerable as Ivy League play starts. The Lions are just 4-10 overall and have only won one match on the road.
The teams have faced two common opponents this season; both earned victories over Penn State, but Cornell defeated Princeton while Columbia did not.
Saturday’s tournament begins at 1 p.m. at Cornell’s Reis Tennis Center.
“We are just looking for the women to play to their strengths and exploit their opponent’s weaknesses in the match coming up,” Stevens said. “We are just hoping they do their best and stick to the game plan.”