Sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico was the only Division III player on the court at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. Gonzalez-Rico battled hard, but lost her first-round match 6-1, 7-5 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) on Nov. 7 and Round of 32 consolation match 6-0, 6-3 to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on Nov. 8.
Gonzalez-Rico put in a valiant effort in her opening-round match against UNC’s Alexa Graham. Despite losing the first set 6-1 and trailing 5-3 in the second set, Gonzalez-Rico showed the resiliency that has established her as the top player in Division III by winning the next two games and evening the score at 5-5.
Ultimately, Gonzalez-Rico could not overcome a slow start and lost 6-1, 7-5.
After the match, Head Coach Amy Bryant attributed Gonzalez-Rico’s second-set comeback to a dramatic change in playing style.
“[Gonzalez-Rico] was super confident, and she played loose in the second set,” Bryant said.
Gonzalez-Rico agreed with her coach’s assessment, adding that she was able to pinpoint her opponent’s weakness.
“[My opponent] started getting frustrated, so I was able to capitalize off of that,” Gonzalez-Rico said.
The next day, Gonzalez-Rico entered the singles consolation bracket and fell to UCLA’s Abi Altick, 6-0, 6-3. According to Bryant, Gonzalez-Rico found Altick’s playing style and hitting strength hard to adjust to.
Despite her two losses, Gonzalez-Rico remained positive and focused on how she can make a come-back next year.
“I have to play against players of that caliber more often,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “I am not used to hitting with the big ball that they have.”
Even with the two defeats she suffered this weekend, Gonzalez-Rico still finished with a solid 12-4 record in singles.
“I’m really happy about how I did this fall season, but I know there is still work to be done to achieve success in the spring season,” Gonzalez-Rico said of her overall season.
Bryant echoed that sentiment, applauding Gonzalez-Rico’s successful season.
“Overall, I’m really proud [of] the way she represented Emory and Division III,” Bryant said. “She showed that she really belonged and could compete against the players in Division I.”
The women’s tennis team’s spring season will begin on Feb. 15 against SCAD Atlanta.