October 18, 2011

Kung, Higgins invigorated after ITA finish

The ITA Small College Championships, which was held in Mobile, Alabama from Thursday through Saturday, is an event that fourth-years Kendra Higgins and Jennifer Kung are very familiar with.

After Kung won the singles title in 2008 and received seventh place in 2009, she ended up placing fourth in doubles with Higgins in her final run at the tournament.

Higgins, earning second place in 2009 at singles, first place in 2010 in doubles with recent graduate Chrissy Hu, and fifth place in singles in 2010, ended her ITA Small College Championships career with a fourth-place finish in singles.

For singles, the final results came after Higgins, the third-seed in singles, defeated first-year Mackenzie Knoop of Trinity (Texas) University in Thursday’s quarterfinal.

She was unable to hold her ground against Emory University’s second-year Gabrielle Clark, losing 6–3, 6–1, nor Claremont-Mudd-Scripps third-year Kristin Lim, losing 6–2, 6–2 in the semifinal and third-place matches, respectively.

Doubles for Chicago started off in the same manner as singles. The fourth-year fourth-seeded duo cruised their way to a quarterfinal victory against Whitman first-year Courtney Lawless and third-year Alyssa Roberg, 6–0, 6–4, before falling to the top-seeded pair of Carnegie Mellon fourth-years Laura Chen and Courtney Chin, 6–3, 6–4 in semifinal action on Thursday.

Friday’s third-place match ended pleasantly for Higgins and Kung, as they beat Skidmore second-year Lee Ford and third-year Nataly Mendoza 6–3, 6–3.

Despite finishing in the top half for both singles and doubles, Higgins said she had higher expectations for herself, but understands the caliber of the tournament.

“I think both [Kung] and I felt as though we could have done a little better,” she said. “It is a hard tournament and you have everyone else who won their region competing for the ITA title.”

The championships consist of the winners of each respective ITA regional and at-large bids, totaling eight singles players and eight doubles teams.

Higgins said she believes the strength of the tournament has grown throughout her collegiate career.

“Each year gets harder with all the new tremendous talent that comes to the tournament,” she said.

Yet Kung said that the results of the championships are a wake-up call for her and Higgins’ final season.

“We have a lot of room to improve, and I think we’ll only get better as we train during the off-season, and once our season starts again in the winter,” she said.

With her last ITA Small Championships in the books, Higgins showed appreciation for the tournament.

“Although we did not do as well as we have done in the past, we both are just very happy to have had the opportunity to be a part of this tournament once again, because there is no other tournament where you get to see almost all divisions play at once,” she said.