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Women's tennis dominates in invitational in Flushing

The women's tennis team had a strong weekend at the United States Tennis Association National Tennis Center Women's College Invitational at the NTC in Flushing, N.Y. After not winning a single flight at last year's tournament, the Bears looked completely different this time around as they reached six flight finals and won four of them.

"We pretty much, like, dominated, as a team," Bianca Aboubakare '11 said.

In singles play, Cassandra Herzberg '12 won the No. 2 flight. She survived a tough match in the opening Round of 16 against Wake Forest's Sierra Poske, the top-seeded player in the flight, whom she defeated by a score of 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1. Herzberg then cruised through the next three rounds without dropping a set, including a 7-5, 6-1 win over Jessie Rhee of Yale in the final round to win the flight.

Emily Ellis '10 won three straight-set matches to reach the finals of the No. 7 flight, where she faced Anna Dushkina of Purdue. She looked to be in trouble after a 3-6 loss in the first set, but Ellis rebounded to win the next two sets to take the match.

In the No. 8 flight, Catherine Stewart '12 and Brett Finkelstein '09 both reached the finals without losing a set. Stewart prevailed in the finals against her teammate, by a score of 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Bianca Aboubakare and her sister, Carissa Aboubakare '12, teamed up to win the No. 1 doubles flight. Though they had played doubles together growing up, it was the first time that the sisters had paired up as Bears.

"This tournament was supposed to be a test for them because we knew they were good, but we hadn't seen them against outside competition before," Assistant Coach Cecily Dubusker said.

"You can't train the kind of chemistry they have," she added.

Bianca Aboubakare also reached the finals for the No. 1 singles flight, but came up just short of victory. After defeating Yale's Janet Kim, the 2007 Ivy Player of the Year, in the semifinals, Aboubakare lost to Lana Krasnopolsky of Boston College, 6-4, 6-2.

Head Coach Paul Wardlaw has high hopes for this season, with young talent like Herzberg, Stewart and the Aboubakare sisters joining experienced players like Finkelstein,

"Our goal is to win the Ivies," he said.

The Bears will play next in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association East Regionals, a five-day tournament beginning on Oct. 24 in Philadelphia. Wardlaw said that like last weekend's tournament, the Regionals "will be a good early-season test."


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