Women’s Tennis Rallies to Upset Cornell at ECACs, 4-3
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars

NEW YORK – The Columbia women’s tennis team notched a huge upset win in the second day of the ECAC Indoor Team Championship Saturday in Princeton, N.J., as the Lions rallied from a deficit several times to beat Ivy rival Cornell, 4-3. The five hour battle marks the first time Columbia has beaten Cornell under fourth-year head coach Ilene Weintraub, and the first time since 2006.

Cornell, the No. 6 seed in the ECAC tournament, took an early lead over No. 7 seed Columbia by winning the doubles point, going up 1-0 on the Lions. But it wouldn’t stay that way for long. First-year Ioana Alecsiu had a quick win for Columbia in the No.6 singles spot, as she downed Shannon Comolli, 6-2, 6-4, tying the score up at 1-1.

The match would continue to go back and forth, however. Cornell regained the overall lead in the No.2 spot, as Ryann Young defeated first-year Bianca Sanon, 7-5, 6-2, going up 2-1. But sophomore Nicole Bartnik put the Lions back in the match, as she beat Christine Ordway in the No.1 spot, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

With a tied score, 2-2, senior Natasha Makarova gave Columbia a huge momentum swing. Playing against Kelly Comolli in the No.3 spot, Makarova lost the first set, 7-5. But as was the theme for the day for Columbia, she battled back, taking the second set, 6-4. In the third set, Makarova went down, 3-0, and things didn’t look good for the Lions. But Makarova stayed in it, breaking Comolli and winning six straight games to take the third set, 6-3, and the match. With Makarova’s win, Columbia was up, 3-2, and needed just one more to win it.

Cornell wasn’t done just yet though. At No.4, the Big Red’s Ruxandra Dumitrscu was taking on Columbia sophomore Chelsea Davis, in another battle. Davis had taken the first set, 7-6, while Dumitrscu won the second set, 6-2. And in fashion keeping with the rest of the day, the third set went to a tiebreaker. There, Davis fell, ending the third set at 7-6, and seeing the team score tied up once again, 3-3.

The match came down to the No.5 spot, where Columbia first-year Tiana Takenaga was battling with Cornell’s Sarah O’Neil. Takenaga took the first set in a tough one, 7-5, and saw the momentum swing to O’Neil’s side of the net, as she took the second set, 7-6. In the third set, Takenaga was down 5-2, and Cornell was just one game away from taking the match. But Takenaga wasn’t about to let the battle end there. The first-year fought back to force a third set tiebreaker, 6-6. There, she came out on top, winning the third set, 7-6(4), and taking the match in three. Her win clinched the team win for Columbia, 4-3.

With the win, the Lions now stand at 6-1 on the season. Up next for Columbia is a match with a fifth place finish on the line. Columbia will take on the winner of the Dartmouth/NJIT match, Sunday, February 20 at 9:30 a.m., in a match that will be played to decision. Complete results from all matches are available at www.ecacsports.com.

Columbia 4, Cornell 3

1. Kelly Comolli/Shannon Comolli (COR) def. Nicole Bartnik/Bianca Sanon (COL) 8-5
2. Christine Ordway/Ryann Young (COR) def. Natasha Makarova/Katarina Kovacevic (COL) 8-1
3. Chelsea Davis/Tiana Takenaga (COL) vs. Ruxandra Dumitrscu/Sarah O'Neil (COR) 6-6, unfinished

Order of finish: 2, 1*

1. Nicole Bartnik (COL) def. Christine Ordway (COR) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
2. Ryann Young (COR) def. Bianca Sanon (COL) 7-5, 6-2
3. Natasha Makarova (COL) def. Kelly Comolli (COR) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
4. Ruxandra Dumitrscu (COR) def. Chelsea Davis (COL) 6-7, 6-2, 7-6
5. Tiana Takenaga (COL) def. Sarah O'Neil (COR) 7-5, 6-7, 7-6(4)
6. Ioana Alecsiu (COL) def. Shannon Comolli (COR) 6-2, 6-4

Order of finish: 6, 2, 1, 3, 4, 5*