SPORTS

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May 2, 2008

Dayananda, Lin make NCAA cut

After making solo trips to the NCAAs the past two years, the top tandem of women’s tennis will take on Nationals together.

Both second-year Marissa Lin and third-year Vindya Dayananda earned a spot to compete in singles, as the second- and eighth-ranked players in the Central Region. The teammates will get to double their fun at Gustavus Adolphus College May 16–18. As the region’s third-ranked combo, they also made the cut for pairs play.

Given their standings in the Midwest, their chances of returning for another postseason this year were all but a sure thing. The NCAA accepts the top eight players in singles and the best four doubles partners for the tournament from each of the four regions in the division.

“They really don’t make any surprising moves,” Dayananda said. “They usually don’t take people out, but they might add people from what I’ve heard.”

“I saw making Natinoals as a pretty tough goal that I should set for myself from the beginning of the year, but once I had won regionals, I was pretty certain that I would make the cut,” Lin added.

For Dayananda, this will be her second time at NCAAs after going as rookie in 2006. That spring she competed individually and alongside her teammates as the Maroons garnered the program’s first ever team appearance.

Chicago lost 5–3 to Wheaton in the first round, but Dayananda went on to claim All-American honors after splitting her pair of matches at the singles championship held at UC Santa Cruz.

She finished last season with an overall mark of 18–6 and wrapped up the spring winning nine in a row, but it wasn’t enough to secure another trip.

Instead, Lin picked up the torch and represented the Maroons on the national stage. A 6–2, 6–1 loss to Carnegie Mellon’s then–third-year Amy Staloch in the opening match put an early end to her postseason run.

With NCAAs as a season goal from day one, Lin looks to go deeper into the tournament this time around. Making her second consecutive showing at Nationals gives Lin an edge as a young veteran. Both she and Dayananda will try to capitalize on being older, wiser, and having more matches under their belts.

“I know what to expect now so I’ll be better prepared, especially in terms of the mental side,” Lin said. “Last year, I think I let my nerves get the best of me, but hopefully I can get through that and perform at 100 percent.”

With the jitters out of the way and the confidence of playing a strong season from start to finish, Lin will be a lot closer to matching Dayananda in her All-American status. On top of previous National experience, the duo also has the advantage of traveling and playing together this time.

“It’s much nicer now because we’re both in the same situation and we both want to win.

“You definitely feel a lot more comfortable going to the tournament with one of your teammates,” Dayananda said. “Going alone, it’s a little intimidating.”

Heading to St. Peter as a pair gives the teammates more than moral support, though. Taking the court in doubles offers Lin and Dayananda more time to scope out their competition and keep in match shape physically and mentally.

A fierce duo, they have posted a 20–7 mark, improving on the 14–8 record from last spring.

“Vindya and I got off to a great start winning the doubles regionals ,and we just clicked and starting playing together a lot more effortlessly through the year,” Lin said.

With two weeks to prepare for the tournament, Lin and Dayananda have some time to keep building on their skills from the 2006–2007 campaign and be in top form for the best in DIII. At the end of the day, though, NCAAs is all about getting another chance to play.

“I hope to go out there and enjoy it,” Dayananda said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a lot of tennis. I just want to make the most of this opportunity.”