Sweet success for Carnegie Mellon tennis at UAA championship

This past weekend, the Carnegie Mellon’s men’s and women’s tennis teams both competed in the University Athletic Association Championships held at Emory University in Atlanta. Both teams turned in solid performances, as the women’s team grabbed second place while the men’s team brought home third.

The women, ranked 12th nationally and seeded second among the eight teams in the conference, began the tournament on Friday by breezing past Brandeis University. The Tartans won all nine matches — six singles and three doubles — that they competed in.

The shutout set up a semifinal match with number-15-ranked University of Chicago. Senior Alison Liu (7–5, 6–1) and sophomore Samantha Schultz (6–3, 7–5) each won their singles matches. And just as they had the day before, Carnegie Mellon swept the three doubles matches: Sophomore Amy Staloch and junior Mona Iyer defeated their opponents 8–2, and Schultz and first-year Sheena David won 9–8 (7–4). Liu and first-year Kelly Namakura rounded out the doubles play by beating their Chicago opponents 8–2.

“Our doubles play was awesome this weekend,” said head coach Andrew Girard. “The girls have worked hard all week, and during the matches they communicated a lot; they were supporting each other all the time. It was just great teamwork.”

The team’s 5–2 win over the Maroons sent the Tartans into the UAA championship match, where they faced the number-one team in Division III and the tournament’s host, Emory University.

Again, the women’s team excelled in the doubles matches as both Staloch and Iyer and Liu and Namakura each downed their opponents 8–4 and 9–8 (7–5), respectively. However, in singles, Emory swept the women in all six matches, as the Tartans took second-place in the tournament. Despite the finals loss, the team won a place in Carnegie Mellon’s record book.

“It was the best finish in school history,” Girard said. “That was one of the goals we had going into this weekend was to finish in the top two and we did that.”

The men’s team also left Atlanta with a piece of school history.

Seeded sixth, the Tartans drew the third seed and the 29th-ranked team in the nation, the University of Chicago, for their first-round opponent.

First-year Yirun Liu, sophomore Andrew Clearfield, juniors Jordan Koslosky and Anthony Robinson, and senior Carl Yang all won their singles matches, while Clearfield and sophomore Stephen Kuhn triumphed over their Chicago counterparts 8–3 in their doubles match. The 5–2 team score gave Carnegie Mellon the upset victory.

“It was a nice bit of momentum for us,” Yang said.

The Tartans needed that momentum going into their match where they faced the number-two-seeded Washington University Bears, who were ranked eighth in the nation.

Poor weather limited the semifinal match to just singles, and the Tartans were swept 4–0.

“It felt like everyone played hard but the matches just didn’t go our way,” Yang said.

Despite the loss to Washington, the Tartans still had a chance to pull off an impressive finish. They had already manufactured one upset in defeating the third-seeded Maroons. A second upset, this time against the fourth-seed New York University Violets in a Sunday match, gave the team a third-place finish in the tournament.

Behind singles wins by Clearfield (6–0, 6–3), Kuhn (7–6, 6–3), Yang (6–4, 6–1), and Koslosky (7–6, 7–0), the Tartans put themselves in position for a win in the third-place match. Yang and junior Dan Munoz’s 9–7 defeat of their New York University opponents in the doubles competition proved to be the difference in the team’s 4–3 victory.

By taking third, the men’s team tied for the school’s highest finish in the conference tournament. The third-place finish combined with the quality of their opponents made the tournament a success.

“We were happy we pulled that out because we lost to both NYU and Chicago earlier this year,” Yang said. “So overall it was a pretty good tournament for us to finish third.”
Although conference play ended with the tournament’s conclusion on Sunday, both teams have the postseason in mind.

“The women are in the NCAA [tournament] for sure and the guys are kind of more on the bubble,” Girard said. “We’ll find out in a week if they make it or not.”