By VICTORIA LARIMER
On Sept 21, UMW hosted the Women’s ITA Regional Tournament at the Battleground. The ITA Regional Tournament is a three-day qualifying event in which 23 teams, all from different divisions, compete in doubles and singles matches to qualify for the next round of the competition. This year included a new twist. Instead of only the winner of the finals match, both finalists qualify for the national tournament.
The UMW women’s tennis team started strong Saturday morning with several players advancing to the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles.
In doubles, Claire Coleman and Abby Moghtader won a pair of matches, as did Lauren Quinn and captain Rachel Summers, advancing both doubles teams into the doubles quarterfinals. In singles, Quinn, Abby Moghtader and Coleman all won a pair of matches which advanced them all to the round of 16 on Sunday.
These advancements were quite impressive to interim head coach, Art Canizares.
He said, “six of our girls won their first-round matches, which for us is good. Historically, we don’t do great in fall tournaments because we gear-up more for the spring. For us to win six out of the eight was really good. We had more people in the championship than normal which was nice. For them to be dialed in enough to be winning some matches early is impressive to me.”
The team continued to play strong through Sunday’s quarterfinal matches. Coleman in particular played extremely well. She defeated Bin Zheng of Carnegie Mellon, 6-3, 6-0 in her singles matches, earning her a spot in the semifinals on Monday morning. Coleman continued her winning streak on Monday when she defeated Vinaya Rao of Carnegie Mellon, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.
This win earned her a spot in the finals round against top seed, Danna Taylor, of Carnegie Mellon later that afternoon. During her finals matches, Coleman put up a valiant effort against Taylor. However, despite her best efforts, she ultimately lost to Taylor in the final round 6-0, 6-4.
When Coleman was asked about her success in the ITA tournament, the sophomore environmental science major said, “The first match was really hard for me. I just mentally wasn’t really there. After that, it just got easier because I felt that no one really expects me to win. It didn’t really matter if I lost, so having that mindset took a lot of the pressure off and made me feel less nervous.”
Senior biology major and team captain Rachel Summers was impressed with both Coleman and the team’s performance in the tournament. “The team progressed really well throughout the weekend. We had a lot of people advance through the first round and make it to the second day, which was great. Of course, Claire making it to the finals was a great way to represent the team and the school,” said Summers.
With the newly added qualifying rule this season, Coleman has another chance to potentially represent the team and the school by playing in the ITA National Tournament in Rome, Georgia on Oct 17-20.
When asked about her final match and her qualification for the national tournament, Coleman said, “I expected to lose that match. It wasn’t a big deal for me because the girl I played was really good. But, [making it to the final round] was a real confidence booster for me. I’ve been struggling with that a lot lately, so it really helped. I might play in [the national tournament]. I’m not sure if I’m going yet.”
Moving forward from this tournament, the women’s tennis team has one more tournament left for the fall season before they take a break until the spring season starts up in January according to Canizares. This early success in the ITA Regional Tournament gives hope for a promising season for the women’s tennis team.