The Emory women’s tennis team left disappointed after yielding several key points in a 7-2 match against Georgia Gwinnett College on April 17. Although the Eagles lost the match, it was still memorable for the team as it marked Head Coach Amy Bryant’s (96B) 20th season at Emory.         

In doubles, freshman Christina Watson and sophomore Stephanie Taylor faced little resistance from their opponent. With several aces from Watson, the duo secured an 8-3 victory. Freshman Jessica Fatemi and senior Daniela Lopez, on the other hand, fiercely battled their opponents. Both sides had strong serving games, but the Eagles lost the close match in the tiebreaker, 8-7. Sophomores Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico and Defne Olcay got in their own way, sailing the ball out of bounds several times and losing 8-2.

The Eagles played several other close matches in singles, and half of the matches ended in a tiebreaker. Gonzalez-Rico could not find her groove and yielded the match to her opponent, 6-0, 6-3. Lopez won her first set, but her opponent increased the pressure in the ensuing sets. She lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Olcay fought relentlessly but lost the match, 7-5, 6-4. Freshman Emma Cartledge had a close match against her opponent, and their battle lasted longer than any other match. She won the first set and tried to keep up her momentum but lost in the match tiebreaker, 6-7, 7-6, 10-6. Freshman Lauren Yoon also yielded her match, 6-2, 7-6. Fatemi brought back the only singles victory. After badly losing the first set, she quickly bounced back and won the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-0.         

With their regular season now over, the Eagles celebrated Bryant’s 20th anniversary at Emory. She assumed the head coach position back in 2000. In her 20 years as a coach and four years as a player at Emory, she has been one of the most successful figures in the program’s history.

Bryant was the first women’s tennis player in Emory’s history to earn All-America honors in both singles and doubles. She was the runner-up in the NCAA national singles championship her junior season in 1994-95 and teamed up to reach the semifinals of the NCAA doubles championship her senior year.

Besides being a successful player herself, Bryant has led the Eagles to achieve numerous honors and awards as coach. Over the past 20 years, the Eagles have won national titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2014 and 2016. The team has recorded a 396-98 overall record with 18 appearances in the NCAA national quarterfinals and 12 appearances in the NCAA team championship finals. Bryant has coached five players to NCAA Division III Singles Championships and a doubles pairing to four consecutive NCAA national titles between 2001 and 2004.  Under Bryant, players have won 87 All-America awards and 12 conference Most Valuable Player honors.

Reflecting on her career at Emory, Bryant talked about what makes her decide to coach the Eagles persistently.

“I really like being at Emory. It’s like a second home to me,” Bryant said. “Being involved in Emory athletics is a part of my blood, and I enjoyed being with those players. Being able to laugh a lot has helped me persevere through all 20 years!”

Celebrating Bryant’s 20th season at Emory, the Eagles along with former players made a video clip recording their best wishes. Team captain Lopez has been a part of Bryant’s team for four years, and she expressed her gratitude toward Bryant.

“Amy is like a friend to all of us who we hold respect for,” Lopez said. “She is an understanding and selfless leader. She helped me mold into the player I am now, and she is a huge cause for many of my successes.”

The Eagles will fly to Florida to compete in the UAA Championships from April 25-27.