The NCAA Division III No. 1-ranked Emory women’s tennis team traveled north last week, where they had matches against the No. 7-ranked Tufts University (Mass.) and No. 5-ranked Middlebury College (Vt.). The Eagles won the match against Tufts 6-3, but they lost 6-3 to Middlebury in their first loss of the 2019 season.
On April 5, the Eagles faced Tufts in a back-and-forth match. Freshmen Emma Cartledge and Jessica Fatemi scored 8-2 for the first win. Afterward, freshman Christina Watson and sophomore Stephanie Taylor recorded another 8-4 victory, 8-4, but sophomores Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico and Defne Olcay were bested by their opponents and lost the match 8-4.
In singles play, the Eagles kept the advantage and secured a decisive win. Gonzalez-Rico defeated her opponent in two straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Olcay fought relentlessly after losing the first set. She bounced back in the second set but lost in the tiebreaker, 7-5, 3-6, 10-7.
Freshman Lauren Yoon won her match in two sets, 6-1, 6-3. Having an easier time on the court, Cartledge won in two sets 6-2, 6-0 and Fatemi registered a 6-3, 6-1 victory. After two tough sets, Taylor went to a tiebreaker. She fought for every point but ultimately lost to her opponent by a small margin, 7-5, 4-6, 14-12.
After the Eagles secured the big win against Tufts, they looked to keep up their momentum against Middlebury College, a top-five team in Division III.
Middlebury had a strong start after sweeping the Eagles in doubles. The Panthers defeated Gonzales-Rico and Olcay 8-4. Cartledge and senior Daniela Lopez fell 8-2, while Watson and Taylor lost in a close match 8-7 (11-9).
The loss in all three doubles was unexpected, but Gonzales-Rico said it gave the Eagles to experience and an incentive to improve.
“We need to practice more doubles,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “We can play more aggressively and practice coming to the net, forehand and serve.”
In singles, the Eagles had mixed results. Gonzalez-Rico faced little resistance and won 6-1, 6-2. Cartledge earned her win, playing strongly in the first set and successfully carrying on her performance in the match tiebreaker, 6-4, 1-6, 10-4. Fatemi blanked her opponent in the first set and secured a 6-0, 6-3 victory for the Eagles.
After the match, Fatemi increased her singles winning streak to 14 straight matches. As a result of her consistency and excellent performance, she was named the University Athletic Association’s Women’s Tennis Co-Athlete of the Week.
Lopez, Olcay and Yoon all tried their best in singles but fell to their opponents. Lopez’s match ended in a 6-1, 6-4 defeat, while Olcay dropped in a close 6-4, 6-3 result. Yoon was blanked by her opponent in the first set and lost 6-0, 6-1.
The loss to Middlebury ended the Eagle’s 13-match win streak, and they fell to 13-1 on the season.
Assistant Coach Barbora Krtickova believed the loss highlighted some of the Eagles’ weaknesses and showed the team what they need to work on.
“[The match] definitely showed us where our weaknesses as well as [our] strengths are,” Krtickova said. “We need to get more discipline with shots selection, improve our consistency in playing and stay tough in key situations.”
The Eagles will compete against Georgia State University on April 13.