By Collin Bolebruch and Liam Sample
The Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s tennis team dove deeper into their conference season last weekend, taking on the Cortland Red Dragons Sept. 16 and the Oswego Lakers Sept. 17 at the Memorial Tennis Courts.
The Cardinals had momentum coming off a dominant 7-2 non-conference win in Castleton Sept. 14. The weekend started with a battle against Cortland, who claimed the final SUNYAC playoff spot over the Cardinals last season.
Cortland made a statement to begin doubles play, taking the first two matchups 8-1 and 8-4 against the Cardinal’s top two duos. It wasn’t until the third pair where the Cardinals found their footing. Junior sisters Nicole and Samantha Svantner took down senior Red Dragons Isabella Bonapace and Emily Morano by a score of 8-6.
“It went really well. Sammy [and I] play really well together,” Nicole Svantner said. “We know how each other plays and we just both work together on the court.”
While the match was a nail biter, the sisters hung on to pick up the team’s first SUNYAC doubles win of the season.
“I hit a lot of balls down the alley because the person at net usually wasn’t covering their side,” Nicole Svantner added. “Just being patient and consistent with your shots and just gameplay.”
Staring down a 1-2 deficit going into singles, Plattsburgh had its work cut out for it. Cortland senior Abby Madigan came out and took down senior Cydney Bond in two sets, with Bond only winning one game.
The Cardinals responded when senior Alyana Leandry won both sets in Plattsburgh’s lone singles win of the day against freshman Diana Kozenyatko. This win brought Leandry’s singles record for the season above .500 at 3-2. This was an opportunity for the Cardinals to pick up steam and build off of its 2-3 score so far, but it couldn’t capitalize on Leandry’s big win.
Samantha Svantner and junior Sarah Benowitz went next and took both of their first sets to tiebreaks but lost in two sets. The Red Dragons’ three point lead made it mathematically impossible for the Cardinals to win overall, despite there being two matches left.
Junior Hallie Hurwitz, the lone winner against Oneonta, was up next. Despite a hard-fought match, she fell in two sets.
“I guess when we started off in doubles and when Cydney and I kind of fell behind and started losing, I think it changed my mentality in the match a little bit. I got down on myself, which you can’t do in tennis,” Hurwitz said. “I guess that carried over into my singles match.”
This singles loss was Hurwitz’s first in three starts this season. Her opponent, junior Karlie Cubino, left the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record.
“[Cubino] hit a little bit differently than I hit, which makes it hard to adjust. She had a lot of slice on her ground strokes. That made the first couple games for me an adjustment period,” Hurwitz said. She described the difficulty in coming back after being forced to adjust and feels she started to come around to Cubino’s playing style in spite of the loss.
Nicole Svantner went on to drop the last singles match of the day and Cortland finished the day with a 7-2 overall score. Heading into the new week, Cortland holds a 2-1 conference record, tied for second in the SUNYAC.
One of the most important traits a playoff team needs is resilience, and the Cardinals proved it the next day. Plattsburgh sunk Oswego in its first conference win and shutout of its season.
The Cardinals rolled out the same three doubles pairings, and this time with more success. Plattsburgh walked away with a sweep, only giving up 12 games throughout all three matches.
“With the doubles match, Cydney and I right off the bat won the first couple games. We were so excited to have a really good doubles match,” Hurwitz said. “We just fought every single game. We would be down [0-40] and come back and win the game, we did that multiple times.”
This win was extra sweet for Bond and Hurwitz, as the No.1 doubles pair all season, this was their first conference win.
In singles, Plattsburgh maintained the same energy and swept all six matches, including Bond’s first singles win of the season. This win came in clutch fashion, with Bond winning a 6-6 tiebreaker in the first set. After falling in the second, Bond rallied to win the decisive third set.
“It was a good weekend for us. We had a lot of good stuff going on as a team. Of course, the first day was a bit tough,” sophomore Sophia Gottschall said. “We definitely didn’t make a bad impression.”
Hurwitz again was given a challenge with her opponent as she played junior Debora Win. Hurwitz mentioned that after her doubles match, she came in “confident” She said that Win was able to hit and move her around really well, but Hurwitz focused on making her tired and keeping her energy higher than the opponent. Hurwitz attributed that “being one step ahead” was the deciding factor, as she took her sets 6-4 and 6-3 respectively to aid in the Plattsburgh sweep.
Following the match, Leandry was awarded SUNYAC women’s tennis Singles Athlete of the Week for going 3-0 across the three matches this week, the first singles tennis player to win it this season.
With this game, Oswego is now 1-3 in conference standings. The Cardinals will need to keep the momentum going, as they have a week off before going on the road to take on SUNY New Paltz Oct. 1. New Paltz was favored to finish first in the SUNYAC standings in the 2022 preseason poll and are undefeated so far this season.
“I think all we can do is improve on what we thought we lacked for our conference matches. Working on that and going from there,” Nicole Svantner said. “Again, giving it everything and just working on what we need to improve.”
Hurwitz stressed the team’s need to be physically ready, including “eating well and drinking lots of water” going into next weekend.