February 26, 2015

ITA National Championships next challenge for No. 12 squad

After two months of constant meets, matches, and early-morning training sessions, the No. 12 Maroons (4–2) finally have a chance to demonstrate their abilities on the biggest of stages as they head to DePauw University (2–1) today to take part in the ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship. In what will surely be a grueling, exciting, and arduous weekend, the Maroons will be one of eight teams competing for the glory that comes with a national championship.

With the scale of the tournament this weekend, the Maroons have no plans of being overwhelmed by the pressure. They have a goal in mind and are ready to execute.

“This weekend, our goal is to place better than third, which is where we finished the last two years,” fourth-year Megan Tang said. “Ultimately, we want to win the tournament.”

If the No. 5-seeded South Siders want to win the tournament and take home the national title, they are first going to have to take down the No. 4-seeded hosts, DePauw. In what will be a pivotal matchup that could potentially give the Maroons the inside track to the tournament title, the squad is going to have to rely on the same ladies who have led the team throughout the season.

In particular, the Maroons will turn to the likes of Tang, first-year Jasmine Lee, second-year Tiffany Chen, and their top singles player, first-year Ariana Iranpour, to lead the charge.

However, it’s going to take more than individual performances for the Maroons to win the weekend. The South Siders are going to have to look to their three doubles teams to bring home some critical wins in the matches, and ultimately set a tone for the rest of the match.

“We want to focus on getting an early lead after doubles, because it will give us a lot of confidence and momentum going into singles,” Tang said. “And, as usual, we want to remember that we are playing for each other and to cheer one another on after every point.”

If the Maroons can in fact topple their mighty opponent in DePauw later tonight, they will most likely then be faced with a matchup against the No. 1-seeded Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays are the strongest team in the tournament, and if the Maroons are able to knock them off tomorrow, they will be favorites heading into the national championship final on Sunday. Potential opponents for the Maroons in the tournament final include the likes of heated conference rivals Carnegie Mellon and Wash U.

“This weekend, we need to keep up our energy level, as it is a lot of tennis in three days. If we can do that, we will play well,” Tang said.

The Maroons’ first match of the national championship will be against DePauw at 3:30 p.m. Depending on the result of that match, the Maroons could play as early as 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, or as late as 7:30 p.m.