Women's tennis brings back proven leaders
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Women's Tennis - Sat, Aug. 26, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – First-year head coach Peter Dumas didn't have to look long or far to find established leaders on his 2017 Cornell women's tennis team.

Senior co-captains and three-year starters Julia Thome (SR/Crystal Lake, Ill.) and Gabriella Ferro (SR/Kansas City, Mo.) have 240 career victories between them, both with a chance to break the program's all-time wins mark. They've been part of 52 dual wins, the most over a three-year span in school history. 

The Rams welcome back a third senior in Katie Mintle (SR/Broomfield, Colo.), who missed virtually all of the past two seasons after racking up 37 wins in 2014-15.

"We will benefit from strong senior leadership," said Dumas, a 2013 graduate of Hartwick (N.Y.) College where he coached the past four seasons. "Julia and Gabby are two of the winningest players in the program. They'll provide strong competitive leadership to build around as well."

Cornell returns four starters and two other letterwinners from a strong 18-7 squad which took third in the Midwest Conference race at 7-2. The Rams are projected fourth in the MWC Preseason Coaches' Poll.

"With so many returning starters, the girls will have a competitive edge and spirit. They're hungry," Dumas said. "Anything less than qualifying for the MWC Tournament is unacceptable. We want to make the tournament and advance. We want to reach the final."

Thome has reached the final of the MWC Individual Tournament each of the past three years. She is the defending conference champion at No. 1 singles, after placing second in 2015 and winning the 2014 title at No. 3 singles. Thome finished 47-12 overall last season and owns 121 career wins, 28 shy of the all-time record.

Ferro has registered 119 victories through three seasons. She was 19-9 in singles last season, primarily at the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Abbey Nelson (SO/Glen Ellyn, Ill.) (33-22 overall) and Raquel Ruiz (SO/Round Lake, Ill.) (30-16) played well as freshmen starters a year ago. Janice Elkerton (JR/North Branch, Minn.) (17 wins) and Megan Pope (SO/Chowchilla, Calif.) add depth to the team.

Dumas is anxious to see what his initial team can accomplish.

"We have a new mentality, a fresh sense of enthusiasm," Dumas said. "The effort and concentration at practice has been very good. I assume that will translate into the season."

The season begins Sept. 1 with a dual meet at No. 25 nationally-ranked UW-Whitewater. The Rams face Edgewood later that day. Cornell's home opener is Sept. 9 with an MWC double dual against Beloit and Lake Forest.