For the first time since September, the women’s tennis team will play on its home court in a match against No. 54 University of Denver on Friday.
After going 1-1 at the ITA Kick-Off last weekend, the Lions moved up six spots in the national rankings to No. 51. Still, head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC ’02, said it’s too early to be too concerned with the team’s national position.
“I think we have some players who follow the rankings very closely, and probably some players don’t really pay too much attention to it,” Weintraub said. “The most important rankings are the ones at the end of the season, so I’m not really that concerned with the numbers at this point.”
This week, the Lions will take on a Denver team that also went 1-1 at the ITA Kickoff. The Pioneers lost to No. 3 North Carolina, 4-0, before defeating No. 39 VCU in the consolation match.
One of Columbia’s strengths has been its doubles team—nationally ranked at No. 20—of junior Crystal Leung and first-year Tina Jiang. The duo won the ITA Northeast Regional in October and last week defeated Duke’s No. 14 team of Annie Mulholland and Ester Goldfeld.
“We actually didn’t know they were ranked until after the match, so I think that definitely helped us a little,” Leung said. “I think we definitely have the ability to be a top-10 team.”
The junior said part of what has made her and Jiang so successful is their chemistry.
“Our styles definitely complement each other,” Leung said. “She’s more of a baseliner, and I’m more of a net player, so it definitely works out that way.”
Weintraub said that this week, the Lions have been focusing on becoming more effective and mentally tough during the biggest points of games.
“I think that’s one thing that I took away from the ITA Kickoff,” Weintraub said. “We’ve worked with all the girls one-on-one as much as possible to try to give them a plan for big points.”
“What coach has been saying is not letting any opportunity pass without us doing something, or jumping on the ball and just being able to set each other up and create those opportunities for each other,” Leung said.
As for Friday’s contest, the Lions have another chance to take on a challenging opponent in preparation for Ivy play.
“We’re just looking to compete as hard as we can, and hopefully the results will take care of themselves,” Weintraub said.
The match begins at 11 a.m. at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center.