Feb. 28, 2010


Courtesy of Emory

GREENCASTLE, Ind. - Top-seeded Emory University captured the 2010 ITA National Division III Women's Team Indoor title with a convincing 6-3 victory over the University of Chicago. DePauw University hosted the second annual championships for the first time after Gustavus Adolphus College hosted the inaugural event last year.

Emory used their experience of competing in their second consecutive ITA National Division III Women's Team Indoor finals in the event's two-year history. Only this time, the Eagles had a much more desirable outcome. In last year's inaugural final, second-seeded Emory was upset 6-3 by an upstart Carnegie Mellon team that knocked off three of the top seeds in as many days. This year, the defending champs bowed out early as No. 5 Denison paid revenge on CMU in a rematch of the 2009 semifinals.

The matchup between the top two seeds and UAA Conference rivals was also a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Division III third-place match, in which Emory was also able to put the clamps on the Maroons. Even though 2009 Wilson/ITA Division III Women's Coach of the Year, Marty Perry has done a magnificent job of closing the gap between Emory and the rest of the UAA. The Eagles are currently riding a streak of 22 consecutive UAA titles.

ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championships: Finals
#1 Emory University 6, #2 University of Chicago 3

ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championships: Semifinals
#1 Emory University 8, #5 Denison University 1
#2 University of Chicago 5, #3 Washington & Lee University 4

ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championships: First Round
#1 Emory University 6, #8 Gustavus Adolphus College 3
#5 Denison University 8, #4 Carnegie Mellon University 1
#3 Washington & Lee University 9, #6 Johns Hopkins University 0
#2 University of Chicago 8, #7 DePauw University 1

Some of the top players in Division III took part in today's championship match, including seven ITA All-Americans, defending NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Champions, a former ITA National Small College Singles Champion and the recent recipient of the James O'Hara Sargent Sportsmanship award.

Both of the premier singles and doubles matchups featured arguably the top two players in the nation in Kendra Higgins of the University of Chicago and Emory's Lorne McManigle.

Kendra Higgins, a sophomore from the University of Chicago captured the 2009 NCAA Division III Doubles title with current doubles partner, Chrissy Hu and made it to the finals in Division III singles at the 2009 ITA National Small Championships. More importantly, she was also named the recipient of the prestigious James O'Hara Sargent Sportsmanship Award, given by the ITA.

Higgins has developed quite a rivalry over the past couple of seasons with conference foe, Lorne McManigle of Emory, the 2009 NCAA Division III Singles Champion. McManigle finished the ranked No. 1 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings and was a member of the 2009 ITA All-Star Team. The rivalry would continue today as both would match up head-to-head in both singles and doubles play.

McManigle stuck first, gaining the match's first point with doubles partner and ITA All-American, Zahra Dawson. The pair easily routed the defending NCAA Doubles Champions with an 8-2 victory. Another pair of ITA All-Americans for the Eagles quickly put EU up 2-0 with another 8-2 victory at No. 2 doubles. Chicago held on to claim the point at No. 3 doubles to cut the deficit to one.

"My doubles game has really improved since I've been at Emory", said McManigle. "I think Zahra [Dawson] and I are going to be very successful this spring. We had a great season last year and I think with more practice together we're going to get even better. She's a great partner, our styles of play are very different and I think they compliment each other well on the doubles court."

Chicago got things going with the start of singles as 2008 ITA National Small College Singles Champion, Jennifer Kung, who now plays No. 3 for the Maroons, cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 win to tie the match at two.

The attention of the crowd quickly drew to court No. 1, where the rivalry between Higgins and McManigle would resume. Higgins opened the first set with a 6-4 lead before McManigle held strong with a 6-4 game of her own in the second set. The third-set score was not indicative of the match play as the two battled back and forth before Higgins was able to exact revenge on McManigle after losing in doubles, with a 6-2 final set win.

"We play different styles of games but always have really long matches", said Higgins. "This is probably the longest match we've had so far, though. She is by far the best player out there I have ever played and I respect her game a lot. A couple points went here or there and could have really gone either way."

The win would put Chicago in the lead for the first and last time on the day as almost immediately after the victory for the Maroons on court one, Dawson was able to pull through with her second big point of the match, overcoming a 5-2 deficit in the first set only to lose 7-5, she quickly bounced back, edging Carmen Vaca Guzman on court two in a second set tiebreak before cruising to victory in the final set, 6-1. Dawson's point may not have clinched the match for Emory but it definitely shifted the momentum in favor of the Eagles as fifth and sixth singles for Emory were able to jump out to big leads in the first set on their way to straight-set victories and a 6-3 title-winning score.

No. 1 Emory University 6, No. 2 University of Chicago 3
1. McManigle/Dawson (EU) def. Higgins/Hu (UC) - 8-2
2. Nash/Rogers (EU) def. Kung/Krishnan (UC) - 8-2
3. Vaca Guzman/Nguyen (UC) def. Reidenbach/Wylie (EU) - 8-5
Order of finish (doubles): 1, 2, 3

1. Kendra Higgins (UC) def. Lorne McManigle (EU) - 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
2. Zahra Dawson (EU) def. Carmen Vaca Guzman (UC) - 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-1
3. Jennifer Kung (UC) def. Jordan Wylie (EU) - 6-2, 6-4
4. Lindsay Reidenbach (EU) def. Chrissy Hu (UC) - 6-3, 6-1
5. Tshema Nash (EU) def. Aswini Krishnan (UC) - 6-1, 6-0
6. Sara Vrabec (EU) def. Shanelle Trail (UC) - 6-3
Order of finish (singles): 3, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6

First Round Matchup: No. 1 Emory University def. No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus - 6-3
Semifinal Matchup: No. 1 Emory University def. No. 5 Denison University - 8-1
Final Matchup: No. 1 Emory University def. No. 2 University of Chicago - 6-3

Also taking place Sunday morning was the tournament's third place match in which fifth-seeded Denison swept the doubles matches, rolling over third-seeded Washington and Lee, 7-2 to capture third-place for the second-straight year. In Saturday night's fifth and seventh place matches, event host DePauw and defending champion Carnegie Mellon each the doubles points en route to victories over Gustavus Adolphus and Johns Hopkins, respectively.

This newest addition to the ITA national tournament calendar joined its men's counterpart, the ITA National Division III Men's Team Indoor Championships, which was hosted by Gustavus Adolphus for the eighth-consecutive year last weekend, February 19-21 at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter, Minn.