After consistent finishes in the top four of Division III, the Emory women’s tennis team will look to finally capture the number one spot at the end of the season.
The team has been in this position in three of the past four years and 10 of the past 12 seasons but has been unable to capture the title since the 2006 season.
This season looks promising for the women as junior Gabrielle Clark is coming off of a hot season. Last season, Clark won the Division III Singles Championship. To keep their game up, members of the team often participate in fall tournaments alongside other college tennis players. This past fall, Clark played in a tournament known as the International Tennis Association (ITA) Small College Nationals, where she placed first in the singles bracket. This season, Clark has been labeled as the region’s top-ranked player.
Though she’s not a captain, Clark does feel some responsibility being the number one singles player on the team.
“Given my position, I feel responsible to motivate my teammates throughout practice, matches and being supportive off the court,” Clark said.
In addition to playing singles, Clark will also occasionally play doubles with freshman Emma Taylor in tournaments. Though the two haven’t been playing together for long, they certainly play well together, as was evident in the ITA Small College Nationals where the two won first place.
“I’m hoping to improve my doubles and singles results and win as many championships as possible,” Clark said.
The team has put a lot of work into this off-season, trying to push themselves to become the best they can possibly be for the season. In addition to workouts in the Robert W. Woodruff P.E. Center, the team has also been having captains’ practices nearly every day.
“We’ve continued weight training and conditioning programs in addition to having a lot of captains’ practices,” commented freshman Madison Gordon. “I’m excited to finally start the season after a lot of hard work.”
Last season, the Eagles finished with a 19-6 record. After two quick losses to Columbus State University (Ohio) and Auburn University, the team caught fire, sparking a seven-game winning streak that ended with a loss to Williams College. The team would lose again to Williams during the NCAA tournament in the semifinals.
Despite this loss in the tournament, the Eagles still placed third after beating Amherst College (Mass.) five to four in a crucial match at fourth singles. This season, the Eagles will have to get by Williams College (Mass.), Amherst College and the University of Chicago â€” schools that the Eagles have had trouble beating not only last year, but in previous years as well.
The team is coached by Amy Bryant, a former tennis player at Emory University, who won the NCAA Division III singles and doubles tournament in 1996.
Since her coaching tenure began at Emory University in 2000, she has led the Eagles to four back-to-back championships from 2003 to 2006 and has also delivered a winning percentage of over .750 while winning over 250 matches as coach.
“She’s a tough and serious coach but also knows how to have fun,” Gordon said.
Relying on Clark’s stupendous play as well as that of senior captain Jordan Wylie, freshman Beatrice Rosen, freshman Emma Taylor and others, the Eagles will open up their season this Saturday at home at 12 p.m. against Clayton State University.
â€” By Adam Trotyetsky