Women's tennis takes third at UAA Championships

Last weekend, the Carnegie Mellon women’s tennis team traveled to Case Western Reserve University to compete in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships. Entering as the third seed in the tournament, the Tartans needed a couple of upsets to win it all, but were going into match play with a growing confidence after a few convincing wins over top teams. Unfortunately, the Tartans fell short in the semifinals against third-ranked University of Chicago, and ended up with a third-place finish in the tournament.

The tournament started out with promise for the Tartans, as they shook off a long bus ride and the disappointment of missing Carnival to defeat the Brandeis University Judges by a routine score of 5–0. Flying out of the gates, the Tartans immediately went up 3–0 in doubles. The toughest match came at the first doubles position, with the team of junior Ashley Herrick and sophomore Laura Chen beating their opponents by a score of 8–5. The second and third doubles teams had a much easier time, winning by scores of 8–3 and 8–2, respectively.

With a hefty lead in hand, the Tartans utilized their strong singles lineup to immediately beat the Judges in a quick decision. Chen started off the singles scoring with a convincing win, 6–0, 6–2. Soon after, fellow sophomore Cze-Ja Tam clinched the victory at fourth singles with a 6–2, 6–2 win to propel the Tartans into the semifinals.

On Saturday, the Tartans continued their UAA quest against powerhouse number-three University of Chicago. With a bit of momentum under their belt, the Tartans came out fighting, but the Maroons were just too strong. First-year Alex Tapak and sophomore Courtney Chin posed a tough challenge, but lost in a highly competitive match by a score of 8–5.

"Getting a lead in doubles is one of the best advantages you can have, but we fell short," Tapak said. "We really need to work on finishing off games and winning big points. At this high of a level of competition, there is a very small margin for error."

With their backs against the wall, the Tartans needed a miracle to pull off an upset victory. However, it wasn’t the right day, as Carnegie Mellon quickly dropped two matches at third and fourth singles. Under UAA rules, first singles plays to completion, so Chen continued a grueling three-setter. Unfortunately, she was unable to pull it out in the third set, losing by the final score of 6–2, 2–6, 6–2.

"It's always disappointing to lose 5–0, but Chicago is also a top-three team," Chen noted. "This loss really shows us we need to buckle down and work harder to close the gap.”

Coming off a tough loss, the Tartans looked to bounce back against the University of Rochester in the third-place match. The Tartans were up for the challenge, immediately sweeping doubles in a very convincing fashion. Highlighting the doubles play was an 8–2 victory by the number-one doubles team of Chen and Herrick. In singles play, the Tartans continued to flex their muscles, winning at first, third, and sixth singles. Herrick, making her season debut in the singles lineup, won by a score of 6–2, 6–2 to close out the match. Chen then finished off her opponent in two tough sets by a score of 7–5, 6–4 to add an extra point onto the match total.

The Tartans will continue their quest for an NCAA title when they square off against sixth-ranked Washington & Lee College at home on Saturday, May 1.