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Women's Tennis Fall Schedule Ramps Up With Five Teams in Action

Columbia's Nicole Bartnik
Columbia's Nicole Bartnik

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 2011-12 fall tournament schedule starts in earnest for Ivy League women's tennis this weekend with five teams hitting the courts.

Columbia and Penn actually opened the League's fall schedule last weekend at the Tribe Invitational in Williamsburg, Va. The two teams continue their acquaintance this weekend in the Lions' annual fall invitational Sept. 16-18 at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center. Cornell and Harvard are also hosting their own tournaments beginning Friday with Cornell playing host to several teams at the Reis Tennis Center and Harvard welcoming Boston University, Long Island, Massachusetts, Middlebury and Temple to the Beren Tennis Center.

Yale is making the trek south to join Georgia and Oklahoma State in the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Yellow Jackets are hosting  a three-day flighted tournament at the Windward Club in Alpharetta, Ga.

Brown, Dartmouth and Princeton are all idle this weekend and will be back in action Sept. 23-25 at the Brown Invitational.

Columbia and Penn got off to solid starts Sept. 9-11 at the rain-shortened Tribe Invitational hosted by William & Mary. Heavy rain on the tournament's final day caused most of the singles matches to go unfinished.

Columbia junior Nicole Bartnik and sophomore Bianca Sanon won the back draw in the Flight A doubles while Penn junior Emma Whitfield came up just short in her bid for the Flight E championship and fellow Quaker Stephanie Do finished her first fall weekend with a 2-1 record and a third-place showing in the Flight B singles draw.

After an opening loss to William & Mary's Marlen Mesgarzadeh and Maria Belaya, Bartnik and Sanon reached the consolation final to face the Penn duo of junior Jules Rodin and freshman Alex Ion. Bartmik and Sanon made quick work of the Quaker tandem with a 8-3 win. Bartnik also took part in the Flight A draw in singles, reaching the semifinals. In her semifinal match, Bartnik took on Mariam Kurdadzae from Tulane. After dropping the first set, 6-3, Bartnik retired and Kurdadaze advanced to the final.

Whitfield got past James Madison's Leah DeMasters (6-4, 4-6, 10-1) and Old Dominion's Nika Khmolovska (3-6, 7-6 (6), 10-6) to reach the singles final in Flight E. She fell 6-3, 6-2 in her title bid to Tulane's Emma Helisten.

Do defeated Sanon 7-5, 6-2 in the opening match of the Flight B singles draw then fell to Virginia Commonwealth's Ana Bara 7-6 (2), 6-1 before bouncing back with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over James Madison's Jacky Palmucci.

Columbia sophomore Ioana Alecisu advanced in the Flight C singles consolation final but retired in the first set trailing 5-2 to Virginia Commonwealth's Alena Gerasimova.

The Ivy League was represented in the Sept. 9 release of the Campbell's/ITA Division I Women's Preseason Rankings with three players included on the singles list. Penn sophomore Connie Hsu, the 2011 Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year, ranked 19th followed by Harvard senior Holly Cao at No. 46 and Yale junior Elizabeth Epstein at No. 92.