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March 8, 2011

Chicago places second at ITA Championships

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Fourth-ranked women’s tennis settled for second place Sunday at the ITA Team Indoor Championships, falling to third-ranked Emory for the second year in a row. The exclusive weekend tournament, which featured eight of the top-15 ranked D-III women’s tennis teams, was held at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, MN.

The Maroons (6–1) cruised through the quarterfinals Friday, beating 13th-ranked Chapman University 8–1, with the sole defeat coming in a tiebreaker at sixth singles. Fifth-ranked Denison, their semifinals opponent Saturday, fared little better, falling 7–2 and also picking up points only at the bottom of the Maroons’ lineup.

“Each team at the tournament this past weekend was very talented,” said third-year Kendra Higgins, who at 15–0 remains undefeated at first-doubles with fourth-year Chrissy Hu. “You have some of the best teams competing for an ITA National Championship, so everyone knows there is never going to be an easy match. Our first two matches we fought very hard and we played with the confidence that we could beat Emory in the finals.”

However, they fell just short of that goal, losing to Emory (6–2) by a score of 5–4. They took a 2–1 lead into singles play, with Higgins and Hu winning 8–4 and the second-doubles tandem of second-year Linden Li and third-year Carmen Vaca Guzman squeaking out a 9–7 victory. Then the teams traded victories through the first four rounds of singles play. Higgins lost 6–1, 6–0 to Emory first-year Gabbie Clark, a Lab School alum, before third-year Jennifer Kung replied with a 6–2, 6–3 victory. Vaca Guzman fell 7–6 (7–4), 2–6, 6–2 at third singles, but Li restored the Maroons’ lead with a 6–3, 1–6, 7–5 result. However, straight sets defeats at fifth- and sixth-singles handed Emory the title.

“It came down to a couple points here and there that could have changed the outcome of several positions throughout the lineup in singles and doubles,” said Higgins. “At several points in the match we were leading them, but unfortunately we were not able to convert. We know they are a good team and you have to compete with them until the very last point. As a team, we saw that we could beat them like we did before and next time we will. Hopefully that will be during the UAA conference championship where we can defend our title against them once again.”

Before the UAA meet April 22–24, the Maroons will head southeast over spring break, playing six duals in seven days in Brunswick and Atlanta, GA and Hilton Head, SC. After that brutal stretch of matches, the team plays one final dual against Wheaton before challenging for UAA and NCAA titles.

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