This past weekend, Cornell women’s tennis travelled to Fort Myers, Florida to face off against Georgia State University and the No. 17 ranked University of Miami. Facing a difficult double header, the Red lost its opening match to the Panthers, 2-5, and dropped its second contest later that afternoon to the Hurricanes, 1-6.
Against Georgia State, Cornell managed to notch only two victories, first by freshman Valerie Ho at No. 5 singles in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 decision, followed by freshman Sarah Campbell at No. 6 singles with an easy 6-2, 6-2 scoreline.
However, Georgia’s margin of victory was much slimmer than it seemed, with both Katherine Nguyen at No. 2 singles and Ana Elhom at No. 4 singles losing incredibly close matches (3-6, 7-6, (10-4) and 7-5, 6-4), which — had they instead won — would have resulted in a 4-3 Cornell victory.
“We certainly had chances to win, [so] it was disappointing that we couldn’t pull off a 5-2 win against Georgia instead of a 2-5 loss,” said head coach Mike Stevens.
The second half of Saturday’s double header faired hardly better for Cornell, though freshman Katherine Nguyen somewhat softened the 1-6 loss to the Hurricanes by scoring a striking upset win over Miami’s Daniella Roldan, who is ranked 82nd in the nation.
Stevens commended his players’ continued fight and vigor in facing tiring conditions, but particularly highlighted Nguyen for praise.
“Things certainly got a lot better against a much better team, and to see Katherine win against the 82nd ranked girl in the country was excellent,” he said. “Against her second opponent, her demeanor on the court was much better, the way she competed and her team cheering was much better, and she hung in there for a great win.”
Despite the losses, the Red has a lot to look forward to as the season moves progresses, such as the addition of new assistant coach Katie Zordani, a former assistant coach for the University of Iowa.
“She’s only been here for a week and a half, but she’s already done a great job,” Stevens said. “We feel incredibly fortunate to acquire someone of her caliber, and Katie is going to bring a lot to the team.”
Another key asset to the team going forward will almost certainly be the return of senior Mariko Iinuma — the last remaining player apart of the Red’s Ivy League Championship run in 2017. Her championship pedigree and experience will prove to be a valuable tool for a young team that is now comprised mostly of freshmen, according to coach Stevens.
The team returns to action next week at home against Army on Saturday at 1 p.m., and Binghamton the following day at the same time.