Women's tennis falls to Emory at the UAA championship

The Carnegie Mellon women’s tennis team had a grim task yesterday morning in facing the fourth-ranked Emory University Eagles for the University Athletic Association (UAA) title.

History was definitely against the Tartans. Memories of defeat at the claws of the Eagles in the 2006 (6–3) and 2007 (7–2) finals were still fresh, although the only player to have played in all three finals was senior Amy Staloch; sophomore Alisa Liebowitz played in this and last year’s finals.

While the Eagles’ season record of 13–9 was less impressive than Carnegie Mellon’s 16–7 record, the more relevant statistic was Emory’s perfect record and 20 titles at the UAA tournament.

This year was no different than the last 20, as the Eagles defeated Carnegie Mellon for their 21st UAA title. First-years Kelly Hart and Ashley Herrick won their doubles match 8–3 to score the only point for Carnegie Mellon. Liebowitz, 6–7 (6), 6–4, 10–7, and first-year Jennifer Chui, 6–3, 4–6, 10–5, both dropped close matches while the rest of the team fell in straight sets, though not without several tightly contested sets.

“Every year we keep getting closer and closer,” said head coach Andrew Girard. “We pushed Emory pretty good. We spent a lot of energy on Saturday against a very good Wash. U. team. [Against Emory,] we were a little beat up from the day before from putting so much into it. The girls played hard and they were up for the challenge.”

Despite losing the championship match, the team had a successful weekend. On Friday at Washington (Mo.) University in St. Louis, the Tartans crushed the University of Rochester 7–0 to move into the semifinals. First-year Danielle Rosenfeld and the doubles teams of Hart/Liebowitz and Herrick/Rosenfeld dominated their opponents, not giving up more than a single game in their matches.

In Saturday’s semifinals, the team took on host school Washington, ranked 14th in the nation. Not interested in giving the locals something to cheer about, Carnegie Mellon beat Washington 7–2. Chui recovered from a lapse in concentration to win her match 7–5, 2–6, 6–4. Herrick, thriving on pressure, came from behind to win a tight match 4–6, 7–5, 7–6 (5).

Earlier in the week at the campus tennis courts, the team inflicted an eighth loss on Division II Mercyhurst College by a score of 9–0. Staloch recovered from a first-set loss to prevail 2–6, 6–2, 6–3.

The Tartans’ record stands at 17–7. The team now waits to hear on a likely bid for the NCAA regional tournament, to take place from Friday, May 2 to Sunday, May 4.

“We definitely have a chance to advance pretty far. We’re where we want to be now,” Girard said, adding that his team is one no one will want to face. “We have a good sense of who we are and what we need to do out there on the court.”