October 21, 2008

Kung battles back to win ITA title

As fall play finished up for women’s tennis this weekend, the Maroons are heading into their regular season in style.

Advancing to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Small College Championships with a win at the ITA Regional last week, first-year Jennifer Kung battled through three rounds in Mobile, AL this weekend to win the tournament with a 3–6, 7–5, 6–4 victory over first-year Laura Chen of Carnegie.

The tournament included students from both D-II and D-III schools, although all of Kung’s opponents in the finals came from within Chicago’s division. Kung also had a chance to face off against players from Carnegie and Emory, two perennial UAA rivals.

Heading to Alabama, Kung was one of eight contenders representing the winners of each of the nation’s eight 64-player regional competitions.

Coasting through Thursday’s quarterfinals, Kung topped second Lorne McManigle of Emory, the defending UAA champions, in a 6–0, 6–4 match. Friday’s semifinals saw tighter competition, but Kung pulled through with a 7–5, 4–6, 6–4 win over Tufts second-year Julia Browne.

In Saturday’s championship, Kung dropped the first match 3–6.

“She just was a little bit slow, kind of got off to a slow start,” said head coach Marty Perry. “The other player did a great job of keeping Jen behind the base line and never giving her a chance to attack, and Jen’s an attacking player.”

Struggling again at the start of the second match, Kung found herself down but rediscovered her attacking edge, coming out with a 7–5 victory in extra sets. Coasting through the tiebreaking match, the rookie rarely trailed and sealed her championship with a 6–4 win.

Having a rookie win such a large, national-level tournament to kick off the year can only continue to pay dividends to Chicago’s squad as it looks to carry the momentum through into the spring season.

“We’re going to have a very strong lineup in general,” said Perry, “because our whole team is pretty competitive with her, and that will give our other players confidence. It’s going to give the whole team confidence.”

The Maroons are off until late January, when they start their 2009 campaign against UIC.