While the roster hierarchy still remains a mystery to women’s tennis head coach Chad Skorupka, captain Biffy Kaufman ’03 made an early bid to play at the top of the lineup this weekend in Philadelphia at the Cissie Leary Tournament.
Kaufman defeated two seeded opponents, including Temple’s Lara Ercegovic, who is No. 73 in the nation, before losing to Nataly Cahana of Old Dominion who was the top seed in the tournament and No. 11 in the nation. Teammates Margaret Purcell ’04, Karlyn Martin ’04, and Ashley Martin ’04 joined Kaufman in Philadelphia this weekend while Susie Hiniker ’03, Stephanie White ’05, Reshmi Srinath ’05, and Rekha Natrajan ’04 competed in the Princeton Invitational.
Kaufman, who was not seeded in the tournament, did not expect that her play would carry her into the finals.
“I guess it was a bit of a surprise, at least the win over the girl from Temple,” Kaufman said. “But it goes to show that anything can happen at these tournaments.”
For Skorupka, Kaufman’s performance over the weekend represented more than a lucky streak of victories.
“I think [Kaufman] had a breakout tournament for herself,” Skorupka said. “I hope she can ride that confidence into future tournaments.”
Purcell, who with the graduation of top singles player Andrea Goldberg ’02 is the favorite to take over at No. 1 singles, did not achieve the same success, losing two of her three matches. Despite Purcell’s underwhelming performance, Skorupka believes she will return to her All-Ivy form in time for the spring season.
Karlyn Martin also fell in the first round, but Skorupka was impressed with Martin, who usually plays doubles with her sister.
“Martin had a good showing against the No. 3 player from Penn,” Skorupka said. “She really showed our team that she can compete.”
At Princeton, Hiniker and White won two singles matches each, advancing to the finals of their respective flights. Hiniker lost 6-2, 6-3 to Harvard’s Alli Pillinger. White fell 6-0, 6-2 to Jackie Arcario of Princeton.
Not to be denied at least one tournament championship, Hiniker and White teamed up to win three straight matches en route to capturing the A Doubles Flight Championship. Doubles partners Srinath and Natrajan placed fourth in the B Flight. Srinath also secured a fifth place finish in B Flight singles competition.
The Bulldogs only secured one championship from the weekend, but Skorupka was quick to point out that the tournaments represented a tune-up for the spring rather than a midseason test for his squad.
“Everyone is going to have a new doubles partner,” Skorupka said. “Our fall is an experimentation.”
This weekend the team will visit Penn State University for the Nittany Lions’ Fall Tournament. Kaufman hopes the Bulldogs can work on their doubles play, something she believes will be crucial this spring against Ivy League competition.
“Doubles didn’t go as well as singles,” Kaufman said. “But we are playing with new partners and still getting used to that. I think that Penn State will also be a key time for us to really work on our doubles and get some confidence in that area.”
Though Skorupka plans on revamping his doubles lineup this weekend, he emphasized that these early fall tournaments will play an important role in determining the Bulldogs’ chances for receiving extra bids to the ITA Regional Championships outside of their automatic entries. The ITA Regional Championships begin Oct. 25 at Harvard.
“I’m hoping to get three singles players in and two doubles teams,” Skorupka said.
The dual-meet season may be months away, but for the Elis preparation has begun in earnest.