After being named ITA Regional Rookie of the Year, first-year Marissa Lin could not quite serve up the win she needed Friday to nail her bid for further accolades. Lin, who finished the season with a record of 17–8, lost in the first round to Carnegie Mellon third-year Amy Staloch in straight sets, 6–2, 6–1, ending her hopes of reaching All-American status in her first year.
Inexperience and nerves on the court caught up with Lin in her tough loss to Staloch (24–9) as the veteran’s focus and poise propelled her through a quick rout of the league’s Rookie of the Year. Lin had already faced Staloch earlier in the season in Chicago’s matchup against the Tartans during the UAA Championship on April 21, during which she also dropped both sets, falling 6–4, 6–3.
“I was really nervous towards the beginning of the game,” Lin said. “I was missing shots here and there, and I just really couldn’t get into a rhythm. This match made me realize that the hardest part of this game is really the mental side. If you are not concentrated, it throws your whole game off.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the net, Staloch smothered Lin with her mostly error-free play. Right from the start, she displayed her three-year conference experience by limiting her unforced errors and scoring a number of well-placed hits.
“It really helped that she had the experience in NCAA play before, being a junior and going to the NCAAs all three years,” Lin said. “She came out relaxed, and I felt tense during the game. I had a lot of errors, but she came out focused and really didn’t give up any free points.”
With a loss in the first round in a field of 32 players, Lin dropped out of the tournament and All–American contention this year. After receiving her Rookie of the Year honors only a week before, Lin focused on trying to go as far as possible in the tournament in hopes of winning the highest honor.
“Things didn’t fall into place the way I thought [they] would, and I thought I would have played better,” Lin said. “I definitely believed I would go further—at least get past the first round.”
As the tennis season drew to a close with Friday’s tournament loss, Lin has much to look forward to next season. Second-year Vindya Dayananda, an All–American in 2006, will be preparing with Lin for their doubles games next season. Dayananda just barely missed a NCAA selection this year as an alternate, but both she and Lin will work hard in the offseason in hopes of going to nationals together next spring.
“Although Friday was very disappointing for me, it was a good learning experience,” Lin said. “Next year, I am really going to work on being ready both physically and mentally. I want to not only play well, but play smart.”