Strong showing at Cissie Leary Invitational brings optimism for spring season

A sense of optimism surrounds the women’s tennis team. With a strong showing at last weekend’s Cissie Leary Invitational, that optimism could turn into reality.

Freshman Radka Ferancova compiled a 3-1 record in the singles tournament held at Penn over the weekend. Her lone loss came to Princeton’s Melissa Saiontz. After getting knocked out of the singles tourney Friday, senior Yuri Kurashima won four straight matches to capture the singles consolation championship.

Though the official women’s tennis season
doesn’t begin until January, coach Traci Green wants the team to use the set of fall tournaments to strengthen its game for the spring season. “These tournaments leave you with a stronger attitude because you play four matches a day against tough competition,” Green said. “It will definitely get them into match shape and you always learn when playing
against top competition.”

Kurashima also saw the tournament as an opportunity to prepare for the season.

“By playing this tournament, you will be ready for the mental and physical parts of the game,” she said. “Mentality is very important for a tennis match. When you’re losing or when you’re winning, you have to give 100 percent and stay positive.”

An influx of new talent also has Green looking forward to the upcoming season. Ferancova, freshmen Christine Clermont and Anastasiia Rukavyshnykova and junior transfer Dina Senkina are all new to the team.

“We’re solid all the way down and with the new talent we should definitely be very strong this year,” Green said.

Green’s optimism has filtered down to her players.”Our goal is to win the [Atlantic Ten Conference] Championship and to go to regionals,” Kurashima said.

“We have a lot of talent this year”, Clermont said. When asked if they could win the conference championship, she responded “Certainly, yeah.”

Ferancova and Kurashima are sending out that memo early. After defeating Princeton’s Laura Trimble, Ferancova also sent fourth-seeded Preethi Mukanden,
of Harvard, to the consolation draw. She then handled Masha Pozar, of Massachusetts,
defeating her 6-4, 6-1.

“Radka’s win [over Pozar] was great,” Rukavyshnykova said.

“She was playing very good tennis. She’s ready.”Clermont echoed those sentiments.

“That was a very good win,” she said. “That showed that we can compete at this level. We belong out here.”

Ferancova’s success stopped there, as she fell to Saiontz 1-6, 2-6.Kurashima got knocked out of the singles tournament Friday in a three-set 6-4, 6-7, 11-13 defeat to Princeton’s Blake Ashley.In the consolation round, Kurashima continued her strong play Saturday, beating Mukanden 7-6, 6-0, and Columbia’s Nina Suda, 7-5, 6-1.Kurashima beat Ohio State’s Sonia Rozimovsky Sunday in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-0. She then bested Penn State’s Laura Holzberg, 7-6, 6-3, for the consolation title. Despite a strong showing, the team still sees room for fine tuning.

“I think we need more match play because
the more we play, the better we’re going to get,” senior Sharanya Pattabi said.Green also sees room for improvement.

“[They] have to improve [their] transition
game when they’re on offense and recognize
their weapons,” Green said.

“They have a lot of weapons, we have to recognize them. Other than that, we just need to get in match shape and prepare to play those tournaments in the spring.”

Terrance McNeil can be reached at

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