In this week’s USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Championship, the Columbia women’s tennis team competed against both conference and nonconference rivals. Though the team did not advance to the national championships, several Lions were able to achieve personal bests.
Light Blue players advancing to the qualifying rounds included sophomore Nicole Bartnik as well as freshmen Bianca Sanon, Ioana Alecsiu, and Tiana Takenaga. While No. 5 Alecsiu lost early in the singles qualifying rounds, Takenaga was able to notch a win over her opponent from Rutgers, 6-4, 6-3, before falling to Sabrina Stewart, a freshman from Dartmouth.
Most noteworthy in the qualifying rounds was the performance of the new doubles team, sophomore Nicole Bartnik and freshman Bianca Sanon. The duo handily defeated competitors from NJIT (8-2), Quinnipiac (8-5), and then Binghamton (8-5). The two ultimately fell 8-3 in the semifinals to the No. 1 doubles team, Hilary Bartlett and Taylor Marable of Princeton. For a doubles team that had never played together in a tournament before, Bartnik and Sanon performed impressively.
“This was the first tournament in which Bianca and I played doubles together while all the teams we played had competed together for at least two years,” Bartnik said. “I think if we continue practicing together and adjusting to each other’s game, we will have more results like this weekend’s semifinals.”
In last season’s competition, Bartnik was paired with a number of different partners. This year, Bartnik is optimistic about the future she has playing with Sanon, especially after their success at this weekend’s tournament.
“I feel very comfortable playing with her and I believe we can compete and beat any of the top teams, not only in the Ivy League but also in the nation,” Bartnik said.
New to the team, Sanon looks forward to the upcoming spring season.
“I feel really confident because if we could get to the semis in our first tournament playing together, we can really do well next season and really help out our team with the doubles point in dual matches,” she said.
“As for singles,” Sanon continued, “I am excited to be back playing. Being out for a few months with injury made me realize how much tennis and competition means to me, and with hard work, I will be back to the level I was playing before my injuries, if not better.”
So far this season, the women’s tennis team has remained under the radar while dealing with injuries to Bartnik and Sanon. Now that both players are back on the courts, the women’s tennis team will have a chance to demonstrate its full potential.
Columbia will host the next and final competition of this fall season, the 2010 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which will be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. on Nov. 4-7.