Tennis star Lin headed to NCAA individual tournament

By Tim Murphy

One year after earning its first All-American certificate in six seasons, women’s tennis has a shot at making it two years in a row.

Earning a well deserved reward for a spectacular debut season in Hyde Park, first-year Marissa Lin was among 32 competitors selected to compete at the NCAA DIII individual championships May 18–20 in Fredericksburg, VA. Lin will look to build off the postseason precedent set last spring by current second-year Vindya Dayananda, who picked up national honors with her run to the round of 16. Dayananda was selected as the third alternate in the singles competition and is not expected to make the trip to Fredericksburg.

The tournament bid comes at the tail end of a campaign in which the Irvine, CA native racked up a 17–7 record in singles, while forming half of a formidable first doubles tandem along with Dayananda. Although the first-round matchups have yet to be announced, Lin will need only a win in the first round to wrap up All-American honors.

“I feel really excited to be selected for Nationals. I think this is my chance to go far and really prove myself to all the other top-ranked players in Division III,” Lin said. “I definitely want to be an All-American, but aside from that, I think I have a really good chance to make it through several rounds, but I’m really going to have to work hard for the next couple of weeks to make that goal reachable.”

Despite having only one year of college tennis under her belt, Lin has the benefit of having already faced five of the top eight seeds this season, by virtue of a rugged regular season schedule in the central region. She has faced one of the non-seeded entrants as well, and that experience, along with her versatility and the advice of teammate Dayananda, could reap big rewards come championship weekend.

“Vindya has already told me a lot about the tournament. Last year, she made All-American, and I’m going into the tournament with similar goals,” said Lin, who was named UAA Rookie of the Year earlier this week. “I’m going to be working out and practicing right up to the day we leave for NCAAs. Coach has set up a pretty intense regimen for me, and I’m planning to hit with Vindya. Coach is also planning to bring in some outside players to work out with me as well. Hopefully, I’ll feel in top condition when the time comes.”

Although the two will be practicing together, they will not be making the trip to compete in the NCAA doubles tournament. Despite having solidified themselves as one of the top partnerships in the region by season’s end, a slow start and some rough losses likely cost them a bid. For Dayananda, it’s a disappointing finish to a season that was anything but a sophomore slump. The Kathmandu native finished the year with a record of 18–6 but was doomed by a couple of losses to lower-ranked foes.

“She’s motivated as anything,” head coach Marty Perry said. “We’re already talking about next year. They definitely have the talent to reach the [individual] finals. A lot of people have limited game styles, and Marissa and Vindya aren’t like that. They can handle the pace if the other person is more athletic.”

A year after former All-American Ward Bortz (A.B. ’06) fell in the first round at Nationals, the men’s squad does not expect to be represented in the postseason. The participants for singles and doubles competitions had not been released as of press time.