Women’s tennis wins ITA indoor tournament

Credit: File Photo Credit: File Photo Credit: File Photo Credit: File Photo

The Carnegie Mellon women’s tennis team, ranked eighth in Division III, pulled off a stunning upset yesterday, defeating fifth-ranked Emory University 6–3 to claim first place at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship at Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.).

The win topped off an incredible weekend of exciting victories for the Tartans and kept them undefeated at 9–0 in dual matches.

On Friday, the Tartans, ranked fifth in the tournament, kicked off the weekend by beating fourth-ranked Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.), 6–3. The doubles team of first-year Courtney Chin and sophomore Kelly Hart won its match, 8–2, setting the pace for the Tartans to sweep the doubles. After dropping a straight set victory at third singles, the Tartans won the match with two straight set victories at first and fourth singles. First-year Laura Chen won 6–3, 6–2, and Chin won 6–3, 6–1 to clinch the victory.

A Saturday semifinals matchup pitted Carnegie Mellon against heavily favored second-ranked Denison College (Ohio), but once again, the Tartans pulled off the upset in a thrilling 5–4 victory that came down the last match. The doubles team of sophomore Jennifer Chui and Amanda Wu gave the Tartans a 1–0 advantage with their 8–4 win at third doubles, but the Tartans dropped the other two doubles matches. However, Chen won her match, 6–3, 6–1, and Chin won her singles match, 6–1, 6–7, 6–3 to tie the score at 3. After the two teams exchanged points once more, first-year Cze-Ja Tam clinched the victory for the Tartans, defeating Denison’s Kara Zdanowski, 6–4, 2–6, 6–3.

That led to Sunday’s matchup against University Athletic Association rival Emory Eagles, ranked third in the tournament. The Tartans had never in their history defeated the Eagles, posing an even greater challenge. The doubles team of sophomore Ashley Herrick and Chen began with an 8–5 victory to claim the first point for Carnegie Mellon, defeating Emory’s Tshema Nash and Sabra Rogers, a doubles team that is ranked second in the nation. Chui and Wu won their doubles match as well before Hart and Chin won to complete the doubles domination. Chin then won her singles match 6–1, 6–3 for her third individual match win of the weekend before Wu clinched the match, getting the Tartans their fifth point with a 6–4, 6–1 victory against Emory’s Zahra Dawson. Tam won 7–5, 6–3 to get the Tartans their final point.

“We’ve worked hard all season and had nothing to lose, so this was a pretty exciting win,” Chin said. “We had some close matches, but in the end we pulled it out. Awesome!”

“We were very tough from the beginning to the end of the tournament,” Wu said. “When we go to California next week for spring break, the other teams have to watch out because this is a talented up-and-coming tennis team who will show everyone what we’re made of.”

“The team fought so hard and stayed focused even when things weren’t going our way,” said coach Andrew Girard. “Our positive energy and enthusiasm was a main key to our success. It was a true team effort, every player on the team played an important role in winning our first national championship. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of how our young team handled themselves all weekend.”

The Tartans will travel to Claremont, Calif., for a series of five matches over spring break.