Women’s Tennis’ Stellar Weekend Clinches Share of Program’s First Ivy Title
For the first time in its 44-year-long existence, Cornell women’s tennis has clinched the Ivy League in a three-way tie with Harvard and Dartmouth
Cornell entered the weekend the way it left it — in the three-way tie — but with Dartmouth and Penn, instead. The Red needed to win both of its matches against Yale and Brown to stay alive for a piece of the Ivy League crown.
Cornell (15-6, 5-2 Ivy) began the weekend in New Haven, facing a Bulldogs squad that had yet to win an Ivy League match. However, Yale came out with a spoiler mentality, and took the doubles point to begin the match.
But the Red’s talent prevailed, as Cornell was able to capture all six singles matches in straight sets to prolong its opportunity to win the league title, and ensure that the team would finish the season with a winning league record.
“We got off to a little bit of a rough start against Yale, especially after dropping the doubles point,” said senior Alex D’Ascenzo. “But we quickly turned it around because we knew that we had to win that match to stay alive.”
Heading into Sunday, the final day of the regular season, the Red needed to win its match against Brown, and have Penn beat Harvard to clinch at least a piece of the league championship.
In a shortened match, the Red defeated Brown 4-1 in Providence. Cornell had to wait approximately 90 minutes until it found out that the Quakers defeated the Crimson 4-3.
“We really had to focus on ourselves, because there was a lot of variables up in the air that we ultimately had no control over,” said junior Priyanka Shah. “So, in terms of balancing emotions and our focus, we really just had to worry about ourselves when we were on the court, but once our matches were over, we tried to look at the updates of the other Ivy matches to see where we would stand.”
And when the dust finally settled, and Penn emerged victorious over the Crimson, the Red learned it had occupied the top spot in the Ivy League with two other schools.
“We were on the drive back when we finally found out that Penn had defeated Harvard, and to hear the van erupt the way it did with their celebrating was very exciting,” head coach Mike Stevens said. “So, obviously we are all very proud of what the team accomplished, and very excited for the women who put so much work in all season.”
While the ceremonies may last for now, Cornell is still not set for the rest of the season quite yet. Due to a tiebreaker, the Green earned the Ivy League’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Dartmouth won both of its matches this weekend against Penn and Princeton, also defeating the Red earlier this season, 4-3, April 14 in Ithaca.
The Red will have to wait to see if it will earn an at-large bid into the field of 64. But, either way, the team got revenge; last year, Princeton defeated the Red in the final match of the season to win the Ivy League championship outright over Cornell.
“In my freshman year, we went 0-7 in Ivy League play, so this was kind of the culmination of four years of hard work,” senior Marika Cusick said. “There is nothing like setting a seemingly unachievable goal and then finally being able to capture it in my senior year, especially because it was the first one in school history.”