Lin, Dayananda eliminated in NCAA round two

It was a busy Friday for third-year Vindya Dayananda and second-year Marissa Lin, but not quite busy enough if you ask the pair of women’s tennis stars.

By Jake Grubman

It was a busy Friday for third-year Vindya Dayananda and second-year Marissa Lin, but not quite busy enough if you ask the pair of women’s tennis stars.

Dayananda and Lin, Chicago’s representatives at the NCAA tournament this weekend, each won their opening matches Friday but could not advance past the round of 16 on the singles half. The tennis season would come to a close just hours later, as a first-round loss on the doubles side sent the Maroon contingent home.

Entering play with the sixth seed, Lin struggled early in her first match of the day, as Washington and Lee fourth-year Kelly Will took the first set 6-2. Lin, returning for her second-straight tournament appearance, countered with strong second and third sets, giving up just four games over that stretch to advance with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 win.

Dayananda, who appeared in the NCAA tournament two seasons ago, dominated her first set 6-0, but it wouldn’t be smooth sailing for Chicago’s co-captain.

Struggling to close out the match, Dayananda lost an early lead in the second set-allowing fourth-year Jessica Ruth of UC-Santa Cruz to tie it with a 7-5 win. Ruth’s momentum would carry her into the final set, as Dayananda soon found herself in a 5-0 hole, just one game from going home.

“I wasn’t discouraged; I was just determined to come back. It’s been done before,” Dayananda said. “At one point my opponent double-faulted, and that helped me get back into it…. The momentum completely shifted.”

Pushing the score out of her mind, Dayananda won seven straight games to win the match and move on to the round of 16.

“I was probably thinking, ‘If there was any time to play my game, it was now,'” Dayananda said.

The comeback secured Dayananda’s elite placement among the All-Americans for singles. Both she and Lin are All-Americans in singles and doubles from the fall’s Regional results.

The celebration, however, would be short-lived.

After a short respite, Lin struggled in her second-round match to Bowdoin fourth-year Kristen Raymond, falling in straight sets 6-0, 6-1. Dayananda found herself in a similar situation against Vassar second-year Nicole Pontee, dropping the first set 6-0 but battled back with a 6-3 win in the next set.

“I didn’t figure out how to play her until the second set. I played…more defensively, and she couldn’t play that game,” Dayananda said.

Pontee responded in the third set, however, winning the tie-breaker 7-5 and officially ending Chicago’s singles season.

Just 45 minutes later, Lin and Dayananda returned to the court for doubles action. After over five hours of play apiece, the pair met Mary Washington’s fourth-year Natalia Fulgate, who had not played singles, and third-year Rebecca Morse-Karzen, who had lost her first-round match.

“The wind was just so strong…. I had had two three-set matches, and it just caught up with me,” Dayananda said.

The Maroons stumbled through two sets, succumbing to the opposing duo 6-2, 6-3.

“We started out completely out of sync. We weren’t playing our best at all. It just wasn’t a good day for doubles,” Dayananda said. “We beat ourselves. We didn’t execute our strokes properly. It wasn’t what they did…. We weren’t doing what we did so well all season.”

Top-ranked Siobhan Finicane, a second-year from Pomona-Pitzer, played to her seed by winning the singles title, while Amherst College’s pair of second-year Brittany Berckes and fourth-year Alicia Menezes took the doubles crown.

Meanwhile, with both Dayananda and Lin returning with another class of recruits next season, the Maroons hope to build on this season with a follow-up NCAA berth next season.

“I’d love to go back,” Dayananda said.