As spring quarter winds down, two players are left standing for the Maroon squad: a seasoned veteran and a newcomer with an incredibly bright future. When the NCAA tennis singles and doubles championships start on Wednesday, the two stars will travel to Mason, OH to compete not only individually, but also as a team in the doubles matches.
Fourth-year Megan Tang is perhaps one of the most decorated players in University history, earning her third straight bid to the NCAA Championships. Her record of 20–10 in singles play this season rounds out a career record of 90–31 and gave her three well-deserved All–American awards.
Said Tang of her past successes, “It’s really an honor to be selected for a third time. There are so many good players in Division III tennis now, and getting the chance to compete against some of them again on a national level is really exciting.”
On the other end of the spectrum is first–year Ariana Iranpour, who posted a singles record of 25–8 this season, was chosen as the ITA Central Region Women’s Rookie of the Year, and also took second place in the singles portion of the 2014 ITA Central Region Championships before ever even taking a class at UChicago. “This year has definitely been an experience unlike any I have ever had,” Iranpour said. “Being a first-year on a supportive and talented team has definitely helped me in competing.”
While Iranpour’s numbers and accolades speak for themselves, some might expect her lack of experience to be a factor going into the championship. However, in addition to her ITA Nationals participation, Iranpour has spent the entire season garnering experience playing at the highest level; of the 31 players in the NCAA draw (not including herself), she has played with or against or seen nine.
“It definitely is a positive thing that I have played many of the singles and doubles teams at the tournament,” Iranpour said. “I think more than anything it makes me feel less nervous because there aren’t really any new faces.”
Not only are these women great singles players, but they also work extremely well as a pair, as shown by their 21–12 record as a doubles team and the fact that they won the 2014 ITA Central Region Championship and finished third in the ITA National competition this fall.
“Having Ariana as a doubles partner has been a lot of fun,” Tang said. “As a freshman, she didn’t know much about college doubles, so it was really rewarding to be able to teach her what I have learned over my time here, and watching her develop into a great doubles partner.”
Iranpour echoed this sentiment when she spoke of Tang. “She’s always there for me on the court when I get nervous in our doubles match and to save ridiculous points and come out clutch when I tend to be not–so–clutch,” she said. “Knowing Megan will be with me on the court in doubles and battling next to me in singles is a great feeling to have going into a tournament.”
The pair has taken on five of the other 15 doubles teams, which, when paired with Tang’s four-year buildup of knowledge of the other teams, should give them a great perspective heading into the tournament. “Because I have played a number of the girls selected for the tournament, it has given me a glimpse into the type of competition I’ll be facing,” Tang said. “Knowing that there will be a lot of tough players just motivates me more to train harder before entering the tournament.”
The matchups will be announced on May 20, after the conclusion of the team championships. The games will begin on May 21 and will continue through May 23. Based on past games, experience, and enthusiasm, the dynamic duo of Tang and Iranpour will go far in the tournament, and hopefully will finish Tang’s career on the highest of notes while continuing Iranpour’s upward trajectory.