While the tournament was not officially scored, Cornell women’s tennis played evenly with the competition last weekend at the Harvard Invitational in Boston. The Red won seven of nine matches against Boston University, lost eight of nine matches against Michigan State and lost four of seven matches against Georgetown.
The Red faced a new team each day over three days of competition.
Freshman Valerie Ho won every match she played, going 3-for-3 in singles and 2-for-2 in doubles. Ho played at number three against Michigan State and Georgetown and number four against Boston University.
Coach Mike Stevens clarified, “no one has a number” on the team. He likes to keep the roster competitive. The fall season, according to Stevens, is about practicing. Stevens wants to “build work ethic and develop each player.” As far as results, “they are all individual” as team scores are not counted.
Steven’s two focuses this fall season are “development and a championship.”
Stevens achieved the first goal back in 2017 by leading the Red to their first Ivy League title. Then, in 2018, the Red finished seventh in the Ivy League.
This year Cornell has a remarkably young team. The roster at Harvard included five freshmen, one sophomore and zero juniors or seniors. Right now the top three players are all freshmen. It is no wonder that one of Steven’s two goals is development.
The team had two junior players last year, Michelle Wang ’19 and Mariko Iinuma ’19. Wang graduated a year early, and Iinuma is currently interning with Google in London. Iinuma will return to the Red in January. Although Stevens emphasizes that “no one has a number,” Iinuma played at number two for the Red last season. Her return will certainly strengthen the roster.
The Red’s roster is also remarkably small. With Iinuma abroad, there are only six women on the team. All of the other Ivy League rosters have nine to thirteen players. Stevens does not see this as an obstacle. “When Mariko [Iinuma] returns we’ll have seven, and seven is perfect.”
Additionally, the team has no captain. “Some years we do not have captains,” Stevens explained. “Captain is something that needs to be earned and needs to be respected.”
The Harvard Invitational was the last of four fall tournaments. The Red will not return until new year. Their next matches are in Fort Myers, Florida, against Georgia State on January 19 and Miami on January 20.