Hu and Higgins dominate D-III nationals, lose “Super Bowl”

Strong performances end out season for Women.

By Kate Marsden

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Women’s tennis finished their fall season this weekend at the ITA National Small College Championship in Mobile, Alabama. Unlike the doubles results, the results for the singles games were a little disappointing.

Friday began with the doubles competition. Third-year Kendra Higgins and fourth-year Chrissy Hu faced the College of New Jersey’s Karisse Bendijo and Allison Tierney, defeating them 6–3, 6–0 in the semifinal match.

Higgins and Hu, the two-time NCAA Division III champions, followed their victory with a 6­–3, 6–1 win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, allowing Higgins and Hu to face the Division II doubles champions in the overall “Super Bowl” competition on Saturday.

Unfortunately Alida Muller-Wehlau and Barbora Kritchkova of Armstrong Atlantic defeated Higgins and Hu 6–2, 6–4.

Third-year Carmen VacaGuzman and second-year Linden Li took fifth place in the doubles competition with a 6–4, 1–6, 10–7 victory over Gustavus Adolphus’s Megan Gaard and fourth-year Marianne Barau, a victory they followed by defeating Washington & Lee’s Lauren Lukas and Trelsie Sadler 6–3, 6­–4.

“[We] were fully aware of how prestigious it is to even play in a tournament like this. We just started playing together a month ago and yet, here we are in a national ITA tournament,” Li said.

Because of their triumphs, VacaGuzman and Li are now second in the region and fifth in the national tournament.

Despite the straight set of doubles victories from Higgins and Hu, the first day had some disappointments as well.

Higgins, an At-Large, lost to freshman Kristen Lim from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Lim went on to defeat Chapman College’s Liz Lewis who was the D-III National Small Colleges singles champion last year.

Third-year Jennifer Kung was also unexpectedly defeated by Karisse Bendijo of TCNJ in the first day of play, but as Li said, “She played phenomenal tennis and lost in tight matches; ones that she definitely could have pulled off if she had only converted a few game points.”

Head coach Marty Perry noted that the “unfortunate loss in the first day” prevented the players from finishing any higher than fifth place in the tournament. For Perry, Higgins’ results were especially surprising. However, he remained positive about the team’s outlook, saying there were “really strong performances all around. The losses were close.”

The singles competition finished Saturday afternoon when Kung overwhelmed Lisa Mertz of Hardin-Simmons with a 6­–0, 7–5 win that gave her seventh place. Then Higgins took fifth place after a 7–6 (8), 7–6 (5) game against Emory’s Zahra Dawson.

Like coach Perry, Li was happy with the results. She spoke about feeling “proud to be on a team with so much talent and modesty. We truly care for each other and cheer for each other with all our hearts. The tournament made me realize even more how lucky I am to be on a team with such great girls.”

While this tournament marks the end of Chicago’s season until January, the team can look forward to a strong upcoming season.