October 20, 2009

Higgins finishes second at ITA Championship

This past weekend, women’s tennis sent second-year Kendra Higgins and third-year Chrissy Hu to Alabama to compete in the ITA Small College Championship, and Higgins’ strong performance on the singles court earned her a second-place finish.

Eight players from around the country, each the winner of their respective regional ITA tournament, showed up to compete in singles.

“None of the players are bad; each is going to give you a match,” Higgins said of her competition. “I wanted to play my game and get things going early.”

She did just that. Higgins first played Rochester’s Lia Weiner and beat her in straight sets, 6–3, 6–4.

Next was another UAA rival, Carnegie’s Laura Chen. Higgins kept her poise after dropping the first set 4-6 and rallied to win the second in a tiebreak.

“There was a match point in [the tiebreak]. I don’t even know what I was thinking,” Higgins said.

She went on to win the final set by a comfortable 6-3 margin to take that match.

Higgins fell in the finals to Chapman University’s Elizabeth Lewis, 7-6, 6-4.

A strong doubles player, Higgins had to adjust some to the experience of playing singles.

“It was a different experience, being out there for myself. I could hear Chrissy cheering from the sidelines.”

Higgins and Hu were seeded first in the doubles event, but suffered consecutive losses to the teams of Jackie Shtemberg and Felice Trinh from the College of New Jersey (7–5, 6–4), and Lorne McManigle and Zahra Dawson of Emory (6–4, 7–6). In their final match, they beat Sam Frank and Sara Krebsbach of Gustavus Adolphus (6–2, 6–3) to finish seventh overall.

In addition to her second-place finish, Higgins earned the James O’Hara Sportsmanship Award. She said the ITA would help both her and the Chicago team as a whole.

“The experience has given me confidence that I can play with the best,” Higgins said of the tournament. “We [the team] want to go the distance in this year’s NCAAs. I think this was a positive step in that direction.”