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.

The Emory women’s tennis team’s fortune continued, winning four singles draws and one doubles draw, at the Wofford Invitational from Nov. 2 to 4 in Spartanburg S.C.

Senior Daniela Lopez led the way for the Eagles, winning the B draw with a thrilling comeback win. After suffering a loss in the first set 6-2 against East Tennessee State University (ETSU) freshman Raquel Amaro, she won the next two sets handedly, 6-1, 10-4.

Head Coach Amy Bryant lauded Lopez’ efficiency on the court, highlighting her competition strategy.

“[Lopez] just played super smart, used her wits to beat her opponents and just figured out how to give her opponents a shot that they did not like,” Bryant said.

Sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico suffered only her seventh loss of the season, as ETSU freshman Laylo Bakhodirova defeated her in the A draw finals 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.

Sophomore Katie Chang, freshman Jessica Fatemi and freshman Emma Cartledge also won their respective divisions. Chang defeated Brenau University (Ga.) freshman Evelin Gouveia 6-2, 6-1 in the Conquer finals. Fatemi bested Wofford College (S.C.) sophomore Brittney Wilbur 6-4, 6-4, while Cartledge triumphed over Wofford freshman Elizabeth Massie 6-4, 6-0.

Bryant attributed Fatemi’s and Cartledge’s victories to their individual playing styles. Both players took varying approaches to cure their wins, according to Bryant.

“[Fatemi] used her forehand to set up her points to attack her opponents,” Bryant said. “[She] focused on her service patterns. She also stayed steady in pressure situations. [Cartledge played] really disciplined and adjusted her game to make sure to hit her opponents’ weaknesses.”

In doubles, Chang and freshman Christina Watson dominated the competition, beating opponents from Brenau and Wofford 6-0, respectively.

“Our doubles teams have a little more comfort because we spend a lot of time on volleying,” Bryant said. “[The duo] were well-trained on angles.”

Sophomore Sasha Hartje and freshman Lauren Yoon reached the finals of their respective draw with a 6-3 win over a duo from Wofford, before losing to Arkansas State University 6-3 in the final match.

Gonzalez-Rico will play in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships beginning on Nov. 7 to conclude Emory’s Fall 2018 schedule.

William Warby/Flikr

Sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico, a potential applied mathematics and statistics major from Pinecrest, Fla., is heading to Surprise, Ariz. to compete in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Nov. 7-11 by virtue of her dominant 6-4, 6-1 victory in the final of the ITA Cup Division III Singles National Championship on Oct.14. Her last victory pushed her singles record to 10-1 for this season.

Alex Moskowitz, The Emory Wheel: Can you explain your tennis history and how you got into the sport?

Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico: It was probably the first sport that I could play when I was five [years old] in France, so I just tried it out and I really liked it.

EW: Were there any mentors that have had an impact on your game and as an individual?

YG: My first coach made me love tennis, and my second-to-last coach, John McLean, before coming to college also improved my game a lot when I came to the U.S., and [he] made me believe in myself.

EW: What have you improved upon the most, in terms of the physical aspects of the game, as your game has progressed from junior tennis to college?

YG: I would say my serve and my forehand, and also the physical aspect. I’m fast, and that helps me a lot in my game.

EW: How have you grown as a player and person as part of the tennis program at Emory?

YG: As my coach says, it is a process that takes four years, so right now I have probably not grown to my full capacity, but I can already see the difference from last year, especially my mental game. I feel like I’ve improved a lot and I still have to improve a lot, but we will get there.

EW: What is your pre-game meal?

YG: I actually eat two pre-game meals: one that is lighter with a sandwich or bagel with a fruit and one that is heavier, pasta with meat.

EW: Do you have any music that you like to listen to before your matches?

YG: Before my matches, I like to put on hype rap or electronic songs, and right before stepping onto the court, I listen to “Keep it Mello” by Marshmello.

Like Michael Jordan in Game Five of the 1997 NBA finals, who overcame sickness to score 38 points and capture his fifth NBA championship, sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico battled ailment this past weekend at the ITA Cup Division III Singles National Championship to pull off a stunning victory.

Gonzalez-Rico’s displayed a heroic effort after she contracted food poisoning the night before the finals match of the Oct. 13 championship in Rome, Ga. Despite the setback, the player still managed to defeat John Carroll University (Ohio) senior Lauren O’Malley 6-4, 6-1.

Although the final score may seem like the match was an easy victory, Gonzalez-Rico struggled to maintain her composure in the first set.

“I was down 4-1 in the first set, and then I figured it out,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “I told myself to be more patient.”

Head Coach Amy Bryant said that Gonzalez-Rico’s difficulties in the first set stemmed from her overagressiveness on the court and desire to finish the match quickly.

“She was rushing a little,” Bryant said. “And then she just needed to slow down a little bit, and then [the match] went very smoothly.”  

After Gonzalez-Rico won, she said she felt “ecstatic and extremely tired.”

With her victory, she became just the seventh ITA Division III singles champion in the program’s history. Her victory earned her a wild-card berth into the singles draw of the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships in Surprise, Ariz., from Nov. 7-11, consisting of the best Division I players in the country.

Gonzalez-Rico and freshman Jessica Fatemi also reached the semifinals of the doubles draw, but lost to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) 6-0, 7-6.

The rest of the team played in the Georgia Southern Shootout on Oct. 14 in Statesboro, Ga., against all Division I athletes.

In doubles, senior Daniela Lopez and freshman Emma Cartledge captured a “really impressive victory,” according to Bryant, where the duo won the main draw with a 6-2 win over Georgia State University. Sophomores Stephanie Taylor and Defne Olcay also had an impressive showing with third place in the third doubles flight with a 6-1 victory over Appalachian State University (N.C.).

In singles, No. 3 Taylor won her grueling match in the third singles draw, defeating Georgia Southern University senior Lindsay Truscott 6-4, 7-6. No. 5 Emory freshman Lauren Yoon also played a difficult singles match in the third singles flight, beating Winthrop University (S.C.) senior Ellie Burns in three sets 6-4, 4-6, 10-8, respectively. Emory sophomore Sasha Hartje triumphed over Savannah State University (Ga.) freshman Christy Turner in straight sets 6-1, 6-0 to win the ERK Round Robin bracket.

Bryant made sure to single out Hartje for her victories this weekend.

“[Hartje] won her bracket as well,” Bryant said. “[Her victory] shows our depth from one to 10.”

The Eagles will next travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Wofford Invitational from Nov. 2-4.



Sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico swings her racket in a singles match at the ITA South Regional Champs on Sept. 30 at the WoodPEC. Gonzalez-Rico won her second consecutive singles title in addition to doubles alongside freshman Jessica Fatemi. Forrest Martin/Senior Staff



Get out the brooms, folks. The Emory women’s tennis team dominated the ITA South Regional Championships this weekend, sweeping both the singles 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 and doubles 6-4, 7-5. Sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico won her second consecutive singles title and formed a dynamic partnership with freshman Jessica Fatemi to win the doubles final.

In the singles draw, senior Jessica Lopez and sophomore Defne Olcay also advanced to the semifinals of the singles draw with Lopez losing to Gonzalez-Rico 6-3, 6-3 and Olcay losing to North Carolina Wesleyan University’s Fariza Abdulloeva 6-2, 4-6 and 6-2.  

In the singles championship match on Sunday, Gonzalez-Rico faced Abdulloeva. After a hard-fought first set in which Gonzalez-Rico emerged victorious 6-4, Abdulloeva came out in the second set and dominated Gonzalez-Rico to the tune of 6-0.

Head Coach Amy Bryant said that, after the second set, she told Gonzalez-Rico to “play her game.”

“[Abdulloeva] was painting the lines,” Bryant said of Gonzalez-Rico’s second set performance. “Ysabel is very smart on the court and really driven, and I told [Gonzalez-Rico] to be herself. I told [her] to attack her second serve.”

After taking a few minutes to regroup, Gonzalez-Rico went into the third set with a “clean mind.”

“[I] played my game, an aggressive baseliner type of game, and [Abdulloeva] started missing more,” Gonzalez-Rico said about her initial play style.

Gonzalez-Rico’s increased level of play enabled her to emerge victorious with a 6-1 advantage in the deciding set. This grueling match helped Bryant, in her 20th season as the women’s head tennis coach, win her 17th straight regional singles championship.

Gonzalez-Rico defeated teammate Daniela Lopez in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 earlier that morning to progress to the title match, while Abdulloeva defeated Emory sophomore Defne Olcay, 6-2, 4-6 and 6-2, respectively.

In the doubles final, Gonzalez-Rico and Fatemi won an intense all-Emory affair, besting Lopez and freshman Emma Cartledge 6-4, 7-5.

“Both teams did what they were supposed to do,” Bryant said. “[The match] came down to one or two unforced errors here or there.”

After winning the ITA South doubles title with Bridget Harding (18C) last year, Gonzalez-Rico has taken on a new role this year in her partnership with freshman Jessica Fatemi. The pair went on to extend the team’s winning streak to 12 with this year’s doubles victory.

Gonzalez-Rico commented on the difference in her team role this year.

“Last year, I was the one learning,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “This year I am the one who has to lead the team and teach the freshman.”

Fatemi had nothing but praise for Gonzalez-Rico, describing her as “an amazing person and a vocal leader.”

“Coming into Emory, I wasn’t really a doubles player,” Fatemi said. “But [Gonzalez-Rico] has taught me a lot.”

Gonzalez-Rico and Fatemi will play at the ITA Oracle Cup in Rome, Ga., from Oct. 11 to 14.

Gonzalez-Rico hopes to get back to the finals of the singles and doubles draw. However, this year she said she “intends to come home with a win.”

The Emory men’s tennis team dominated the ITA South Regional Championships from Sept. 21-23 at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College (Ga.). The team started hot on Friday, with seven of the eight competing singles players winning their first two matches and advancing to the Round of 16.

The Eagles occupied the last three of the four spots in the singles tournament, with seniors Jonathan Jemison and Adrien Bouchet and freshman Andrew Ennes advancing to the semifinals.

After Jemison defeated junior Ritwik Chatterjee of Rhodes College (Tenn.) in the semifinals, he matched up against freshman teammate Andrew Esses, who had defeated Bouchet in the semifinals. Jemison defeated his teammate, 6-3, 6-0 in the finals.

The four doubles teams also experienced success at the tournament. All four teams made the semifinals. Jemison and Bouchet won the doubles title over senior James Spaulding and sophomore Hayden Cassone, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, marking Bouchet’s second consecutive year claiming the doubles title.

Sophomore Sahil Raina said he wasn’t surprised by how well the team performed and praised how Head Coach John Browning prepared the team.

“[Browning] trains us very hard,” Raina said. “We’re always the most fit team going into every tournament. The most fit, hydrated, ready to go, stamina and endurance wise.”

Both Jemison and Bouchet were named the University Athletic Association Men’s Tennis Co-Athletes of the Week for their performances this past weekend.

For Jemison, one of the most decorated tennis players in Emory’s history, the event marked his second straight ITA South Regional Championship singles title and his fourth appearance in the championship match overall. His doubles victory was also his second ITA doubles championship and his third appearance in the tournament.

Browning called Jemison’s achievements “remarkable.”

“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Browning said. “I’ve been able to watch him grow since he was 18 years old and [see him become] a mature competitor on the court and a wonderful ambassador for Emory.”

Though the Eagles dominated the tournament, Browning believes the team still has room to grow.

[The tournament] was a really good starting point, but like I said, we have a long way to go and everybody has to commit to getting better physically [and] mentally in the next three months,” Browning said.

In the B Flight portion of the tournament, sophomore Alec Rabinowitz bested freshman teammate Connor Genschaw, 7-5, 6-4, to win the singles tournament on Sept. 23. Raina and Genschaw captured the doubles crown with an 8-3 victory over freshman Ryan Wax and junior Dane Hawthorne of Sewanee: The University of the South (Ga.) on Sept. 22.

Jemison and Bouchet will advance to the ITA Cup from Oct. 11-14 at the Rome Tennis Center.

Senior tennis team captain Andrew Harrington’s journey to a successful collegiate tennis career has involved many twists and turns. He transferred from the University of Miami to Emory after one year. Harrington made  an explosive impact during first year with the Eagles, but he suffered an ankle injury that prevented him from competing most of his junior season. This year, Harrington has returned as an integral part of the team.

Harrington faced a drastically different set of circumstances at Miami as a freshman playing tennis compared to at Emory. One major difference between the schools is the level of competition, he said. Transitioning from the NCAA Division I to the Division III level changed his perspective on the court.

“At Emory, we’re big dogs where we’re top five in the country,” Harrington said. “We were on the lower end at Miami but played professional-caliber players at other schools.”

Harrington made an instant impact as a sophomore on the team, posting an overall singles record of 21-9 on the season and winning 16 out of 23 matches during the spring. He was able to seize the opportunity and prove himself as an elite-level player. Harrington was a major contributor to a nearly undefeated season for the team.  

The team ultimately fell short of one of their major goals for the season, despite Harrington’s standout performance. They lost in the 2016 National Semifinals to Bowdoin College (Maine) 5-4.

During his junior year, Harrington dealt with an ankle injury during which he could not build on his sophomore season in the way he had hoped. However, his temporary absence from the court gave him a new approach to his play when he returned as a senior.

“I used the motivation of not winning a championship as a sophomore [to try to win a championship this year],” Harrington said.

Harrington’s primary goal during his comeback has been contributing to the court as much as possible in his final year as an Eagle, and he has not only made his biggest impact of his career as a team player, but also as team captain, a role that he doesn’t take lightly.

“I always volunteer and say, ‘If you guys need to work on anything, let me know,’ ” Harrington said. “Winning a championship is a team effort, and you want to set a good example. If you work hard, it well get them to want to work hard, too.”

Harrington’s journey with the team has helped him to make big strides in his on-court ability and mentality toward the game. As a sophomore, he would easily get frustrated and lose focus when he made mistakes on the court. Since then, he has become much better at responding to mistakes and maintaining his focus, especially this year given his new sense of urgency.

“I know my tennis days are numbered,” Harrington said. “Just the fact that it’s all coming to an end has pushed me to reach a level that I wasn’t at previously. It has made competing a lot more enjoyable and has made me cherish the moment.”

When playing tennis, Harrington said he has realized that what matters most is leaving his best game on the court and enjoying the game.

“You can’t control your outcomes,” Harrington said. “All you can control is whether you gave 100 percent and fought [to] the best of your ability and [showed] a good attitude. With that, results tend to come.”

Harrington is still motivated to win by the redemption from falling short in his sophomore year. He wants to finish his career on a high note and go undefeated for the season en route to a second straight national championship.

Harrington strives to make a lasting impact on the team before he graduates this spring.

“I’m going to die on the court before I get off the court for every match,” Harrington said. “I don’t want to walk away with any regrets.”

Harrington’s chances for success look promising, as the Eagles are in a great position this season to claim back-to-back Division III National Championships for the first time in school history.

Although this is his first year on the Emory men’s tennis team, freshman Hayden Cassone has played an invaluable role in helping the Eagles register a blistering 9-0 win against Rhodes College (Tenn.) with an 8-3 verdict in doubles on March 24. Earlier this season, he contributed to the team’s third straight ITA National Indoor Championship title during a series of matches on Feb. 23-25, with a score of 6-3, 6-2 in singles play and 8-5 in doubles at the finals. Cassone is a pre-business College student from South Salem, N.Y. The team next faces Johns Hopkins University (Md.) at home on March 31.

Thomas Yohannes, The Emory Wheel: What did you think about Emory’s tennis team during high school, and what do you think about it now?

Hayden Cassone: Before I came here, I knew Emory had an [NCAA Division I]-type program with a very experienced coach who cares a lot about his players. Also, they have a rich tradition of winning. When I came on my recruiting trip, I immediately loved all the guys on the team. After being here, it just confirmed my assumptions about how great [the program] is.

EW: So far this season, you have an overall record of 12-2 in singles play, 4-0 in the Spring. In your opinion, did you exceed your own expectations?

HC: My expectations are not personal, but for the team. I wanted to win a national title with my boys, and we achieved that together.

EW: Who is a player you look up to?

HC: I love watching Roger Federer play. He is the best player to ever live, and I give him a lot of respect.

EW: What’s the craziest thing to happen during a tournament?

HC: I clinched the semifinals against [the University of] Chicago at [the ITA Indoor National Championships]. They were a tough team, and I was extremely excited to win for my friends and teammates.

EW: What type of music do you listen to before a game or practice?

HC: EDM and rap.

EW: What’s the most memorable moment with the team?

HC: Winning [the ITA Indoor National Championships] was definitely a fun experience with the team. It was the first time I was with them in a serious team environment, and to win that was amazing.

EW: Any aspirations in tennis for the future?

HC: Since I just turned 18, I still have the national circuit of junior tournaments over the summer. I’m really looking forward to that as it’s my last time around. As for the far future, I haven’t looked that far ahead yet.

The No. 2 Emory University women’s tennis team defeated No. 6 Pomona-Pitzer College (Calif.) to win their second consecutive and fourth overall indoor title in the final round of the ITA Indoor Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn., March 4.

The team cruised through the opening round against No. 17 Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.), winning all nine contests March 2.

The Eagles’ top doubles team of senior Bridget Harding and freshman Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico established Emory’s dominance with an 8-3 victory. Junior Daniela Lopez and freshman Katie Chang earned the second doubles win, followed by another victory from senior Anna Fuhr and freshman Stephanie Taylor to complete the doubles sweep.

Harding and Gonzalez-Rico have been on a tear this season, going undefeated in doubles competition for the season. According to Gonzalez-Rico, practice and extra matches have been a major part of their win streak.

In the singles matches, the six victories came in straight sets. Harding won 6-2, 7-6 followed by Gonzalez-Rico’s 6-0, 6-2 win. Lopez recorded a 6-3, 6-1 win in the third match. Taylor posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory, followed by a 6-0, 6-2 Fuhr win. Freshman Defne Olcay closed out the successful day with a 6-1, 6-0 win.

Coach Amy Bryant saw the win as a great way to evaluate the team’s current standing.

[The tournament] is a great indicator of the talent that we have [and] a great way for understanding what we need to work on,” Bryant said.

The next day, the Eagles won six of nine matchups against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in the semifinals.

Emory won two of three matches in the doubles competition. Harding and Gonzalez continued their fine form in an 8-3 victory, while Lopez and Chang earned an 8-5 win. Meanwhile, Fuhr and Taylor stumbled in an 8-5 loss.

Harding, Gonzalez-Rico, Lopez and sophomore Emma Perelman also delivered victories for the Eagles in the singles competition. Harding recorded a 6-3, 6-4 victory, Gonzalez-Rico won 6-2, 6-4 and Lopez capped the singles sweep 7-5, 6-0. Perelman, in champion fashion, thrashed her opponent 6-0, 6-0 to finish off the matchup. Taylor and Olcay dropped matches in the other two singles contests with scores of 7-6 (5), 6-4 and 6-2, 7-5.

After a couple of losses against Carnegie Mellon, Bryant said her team was not rattled and stayed the course.

“I think the key for us was to stay steady,” Bryant said. “It was about sticking to the game plan but adjust to whatever we need to. We’re playing good players.”

In the finals against Pomona College, the Eagles closed out their opponents by securing wins in all their contests.

The Eagles triumphed in all three doubles matches. Lopez and Chang dominated their match 8-0 while Harding and Gonzalez-Rico closed out their match with an 8-5 victory. Fuhr and Taylor recovered from their loss the day before with an 8-7 triumph.

Emory needed two victories to win the championship round in the singles competition. Harding and Gonzalez-Rico sealed the showdown after their 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4, 6-3 victories, respectively. The Eagles solidified their top spot with leads in two of the four remaining contests — Fuhr and Perelman both won their matches 6-4, 5-4.

Gonzalez-Rico, who celebrated her first ever win with the team, said that the win was a morale boost for the team.

“[It was our] first tournament win [and a] great start for the team,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “But it’s only the beginning. We still have a lot of work for the rest of semester.”

The next set of matches take place after spring break. Bryant said the team will have a much-needed rest.

“We’ve been going hard four weeks straight now. Breaks are important,” said Bryant. “Everyone is [going] to have their own things [but] we’ll be ready.”

The Eagles, now 4-3 on the season, are set to return to action March 24 against Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.).