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The doubles duo of senior Bianca Sanon (pictured) and sophomore Kanika Vaidya will have a tough test against Cornell—the Big Red's strength lies in its doubles play.

Winner of its last seven matches, the No. 33 women's tennis team (11-2) will begin defending its 2013 Ivy title with a match against Cornell (7-3) on Saturday.

As last year's co-champion and the highest-ranked team in the Ancient Eight, the Light Blue has a target on its back. But with a win streak in hand, head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC '02, said she's feeling confident with the way the team has been playing.

“They really are prepared,” she said. “I think we've put in the work everyday since the beginning of the year, so now we're really just working on fundamentals, and making sure we're really sharp for Ivy League season.”

Last year, Cornell finished fifth in the Ivy standings with a 3-4 record and lost to Columbia 7-0. While the Big Red lost to Brown and Dartmouth—the two teams that finished tied for last in 2013—at the ECAC Indoor Championships in February, Cornell has won five of its last six matches.

Weintraub said that part of what makes Cornell dangerous is its strength in doubles. The Big Red team of Alexandra D'Ascenzo and Dena Tanenbaum comes into the match ranked No. 51.

“They always play very aggressive doubles,” Weintraub said, noting that Cornell won the doubles point in its matches with Brown and Dartmouth. “They're big ballers. They hit hard, so we have to be calm and outsmart them.”

Of course, the Lions have formidable doubles teams of their own. Senior Bianca Sanon and sophomore Kanika Vaidya are ranked No. 14, and the duo of junior Crystal Leung and first-year Tina Jiang is ranked No. 30. Vaidya also begins Ivy play as Columbia's only ranked singles player at No. 71.

“Individually, I feel pretty good,” Vaidya said. “Spring break was really good because we had four straight matches that were really good for us. That's a really good confidence booster.”

With confidence running high, the Lions are poised to make another run at the Ivy title.

“I spoke to them at the beginning of the year, and it's kind of been this unspoken message throughout the whole year that we all know our goal is to win the conference outright,” Weintraub said. “And in order to do that, we're going to have to be very consistent and play our best tennis for the next seven matches.”

And that consistent, high-level of play will have to begin against the Big Red. 

Saturday's match at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center will begin at noon. | @MSmmns210

Women's Tennis
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