The Cornell women’s tennis team started off its first match of the season at the Columbia Invitational in Flushing, New York, from Sept. 17 to 19. Led by interim Head Coach Katie Zordani, the team entered the tournament after more than a year without competitive collegiate play, with their first weekend back on the court marked by a few individual successes.
The Red finished with one of nine singles players and one of four doubles pairs advancing past their second game. Two doubles pairs and two singles players won matches overall, with freshman singles player Seychelle Balog and the doubles pair of senior Maria Adiaconitei and sophomore Lauren Stein making their respective consolation bracket finals.
Balog won her consolation bracket finals in straight sets to capture a placement for the Red. Balog won both of the Albany bracket’s consolation games, earning her fifth place, a big accomplishment for the first-season freshman.
Zordani added that Adiaconitei and Stein showed impressive resilience and grit.
“Adiaconitei really battled and won her first match,” Zordani said. “She came up short in the second round but still looked very good.”
Adiaconitei’s first performance was a close one, as she beat Syracuse’s Shiori Ito in three sets (2-6, 7-6(3), 10-6), with the second set coming down to a tie-breaker. In the next match, Adiaconitei lost to the University of North Carolina’s Margaux Maquet in straight sets (6-4, 6-0). Still, Maria placed third in the Brooklyn bracket, the best placement out of any Cornell players in the competition.
Stein was less successful in her singles bracket, but beat one of Wisconsin’s more dominant players, Alina Mukhortova, in straight sets (6-2, 6-2). This victory, combined with her and Adiaconitei’s solid double’s performance, made for an exciting start to the sophomore’s first season of competitive play.
Zordani said the performance in the invitational showed a positive outlook.
“There were a lot of really close matches, but moving forward we’re going to compete this weekend, next weekend and continue to see improvement in practice,” Zordani said.
She also pointed to the team’s work ethic as their biggest strength: “The team has a competitive nature,” Zordani said. “We work hard day in and day out with the drills and how we show up to practice everyday. It will continue to help us to improve. Tennis is an individual sport and every girl has different things to work on.”
The Red will return to the court this weekend to play at the Cissie Leary Invitational hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Sept. 24 to Sept. 26.