After being named University Athletic Association (UAA) Athlete of the Week a few weeks ago, Laura Chen became the first first-year woman from Carnegie Mellon to win the ITA Southeast Regional Tennis Singles Championship. Chen’s calm temperament and fiery competitiveness helped her win six straight matches, dropping six games or less in each match, to clinch the win. The newly titled All-American will compete in the ITA National Tournament in Alabama later this month.

The Tartan: How long have you been playing tennis?
Chen: I’ve played for about 10 years. I played almost every day, except for the weekends, usually for one and a half to two hours. I started playing tournaments when I was about 12 and national tournaments when I was 14.

T: You won the ITA Regional tournament last weekend. How do you feel?
C: I feel great. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the support of my teammates and the help of my coaches. It was fun to see all of the other teams playing too.

T: What made you choose a Division III school over a Division I or II school?
C: I thought that Division III was good because it focused more on academics too.

T: Do you have any routines or rituals for tournaments?
C: I always eat pasta for dinner the night before. I also like to eat oatmeal for breakfast and drink a cup of tea. For an 8 a.m. match, I’ll always get up at 6.

T: What was your most memorable match?
C: It was against this really good girl who smacked everything around the court — and it was on clay. So I was sliding everywhere and getting everything and playing really well, and I beat her. I loved it.

T: If you could go back in time and choose to play a different sport, would you choose a new one or pick tennis again?
C: I would pick tennis again. It has taught me lots of life lessons. I’ve also made lots of good friends through it and traveled to lots of different places. It also brought me here!

T: Did you ever have to sacrifice anything for tennis?
C: Sometimes I had to miss a day of school, so I had to balance doing my homework in time. There was also a little bit of not being able to go out, because of tournaments. I was able to see my tennis friends.

T: Will you continue to play tennis after college?
C: I’ll still keep playing, because I guess I’m used to it, always playing. It’s fun and maybe I will join a league. But most likely I will play on the weekends.

T: Do you have any goals for this year, academic-wise or tennis-wise?
C: Academic-wise I’d like to receive good grades. Tennis-wise I’d like to have a good season and just keep having fun.

T: What do you like to do in your spare time?
C: I like to listen to music, doodle, and be with friends. I also like to watch TV, especially Heroes, but haven’t been able to watch as much since I’ve been here.

Chen received placement in the ITA National Women’s Tennis Singles semifinals that will take place in Mobile, Ala. Oct. 16–19.