May 20, 2014

Tang, Chen, Sabada head west for Nationals in singles, doubles

[img id="115612" align="none"/] After a year that included a 12–11 record and a Sweet 16 appearance for the women, as well as a top-20 end-of-season ranking and 11–9 record for the men, the Maroon tennis squads have had a season worth noting. However, while the team season is over, the year has not quite ended for the three individuals who have advanced to the NCAA DIII individual championships that will be held later this week in Claremont, California. Those three Maroons are third-year Deepak Sabada on the men’s side, and third-year Megan Tang and first-year Tiffany Chen on the women’s side.

For Sabada, Nationals is familiar territory as this is his second consecutive year advancing to the individual championships (he lost in the first round last time). As a singles player, Sabada will join the other top 31 singles players from around the country as he heads to California with a 17–11 record in hand. Furthermore, the pressure of such a broad, competitive, and intense stage won’t have much of an effect on Sabada. Not only does he have the experience from last year, but he also has a second-place showing this year at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championships.

“I lost first round last year at Nationals, so the goal right now is to win a match and then go from there,” Sabada said. “I was definitely motivated to get back to Nationals after qualifying for it last year.”

A fellow South Sider joining Sabada at Nationals will be Chen. As a first-year, Chen was immediately thrown into the gauntlet of one of the toughest tennis conferences in the country, the UAA. However, she was able to hold her ground over the course of the year as she composed a 10–9 record in doubles with her partner, Tang.

With only 16 doubles pairs qualifying for Nationals, the Maroon tandem of Tang and Chen will certainly have its work cut out for it against some of the strongest pairs in the nation. However, the two have experience on their side, as Tang is familiar with the national competition, having qualified for the individual championships in both singles and doubles last year, a feat that was equally matched by her recognition as an All-American.

Matching her levels of success from last year, Tang has qualified for the National Championships in both singles and doubles once again. With a season résumé that includes a third-place finish at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships and an ITA Central Regional title in singles, Tang is certainly one of the favorites this weekend in singles, as well as in doubles with Chen.

“My goals for Nationals are to reach the round of 16 in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles with Tiffany, both of which are further into the draw than last year at Nationals,” Tang said.

Chen echoed her partner’s sentiments.

“I would like to play well this weekend, especially at the net because I’ve been working on that a lot recently. Hopefully all the work Megan and I put in will pay off,” Chen said.

The three Maroons all begin competition this Thursday at 10:45 a.m. PST in Claremont, California. Victories Thursday would propel them to the Friday competition, from which they would like to advance to the National finals on Saturday.