The Emory University Women's Tennis Team knows how to rise to the occasion. Despite a key injury, some uncharacteristic regular season losses, and a risky late-season lineup change, Emory celebrated its fourth consecutive NCAA Division III national title, and placed a record six student-athletes on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-America Team. Along the way, the Eagles clawed to a 19-6 record and celebrated their stranglehold on the University Athletic Association (UAA), winning the conference title for the 19th consecutive year.
Junior Richelle Marasigan finished the season ranked No. 7 in the nation in singles, while playing in the No. 1 singles and double slots. She won 15 matches during the season, battling the nation's top players in nearly every match. At No. 2 singles, sophomore Linda Tien racked up a team high 21 victories, and finished the year with a No. 13 national ranking. Her feisty 4-0 performance in the national tournament was integral to the championship run. Tien's 41-12 career record gives her a winning percentage of .774, which stands eighth in the program's history. Marasigan and Tien teamed together to form the fifth-ranked doubles tandem, and both earned All-America honors for singles and doubles play.
Senior captain Jamie Chan, at No. 3 singles, ended her Emory career having won 76 singles matches and four national team titles, the first tennis player in NCAA Division III history to achieve that "four-peat." While playing with a stress fracture in her foot, Chan bravely soldiered on, capping off her season by winning All-America honors for the second time and achieving a No. 8 national doubles ranking with partner, Indu Anand. Anand, a sophomore, enjoyed a banner season at No. 4 singles, collecting 19 wins. Anand's record now stands at 39-7 (.847), the fourth best winning percentage in school history.
No. 5 singles Samantha Shapiro, a sophomore, was on the winning end of 16 singles and 21 doubles matches for the season, and she earned All-America honors for the first time, based on her championship doubles performance with Tien at the ITA South Region Championships. Shapiro's NCAA doubles partner, sophomore Cristina Arellano, held down the No. 6 singles spot with 14 wins. Arellano caught fire during NCAA play, winning four key singles matches, including the clinching match in the national semifinal.
The doubles duos were crucial to the team's success. With inconsistent doubles play costing the squad key matches to its rivals during the regular season, head coach Amy Bryant worked to control the damage to the team's psyche and tumbling national ranking. On the eve of the national tournament, Bryant overhauled the entire doubles lineup to create the three new pairings. The results were perfect, or at least nearly perfect. During the NCAAs, the third-ranked Eagles won 13 of the 15 doubles points. With the doubles contested first in team play, the Eagles always went into the singles matchups with a tactical and psychological advantage over their opponents. Chan/Anand and Shapiro/Arellano were both a perfect 5-0 at nationals, enabling the Eagles to avenge regular season losses in the round of 16, semifinals, and final.
First, Emory shut out Rhodes in the first round, with Marasigan and Tien accounting for three points in singles and doubles. In the second round, Emory faced the University of the South, which had dominated singles play versus the Eagles in the regular season. However, Emory took all the mystery out of the match early, sweeping all three doubles points and cruising to a 5-1 win. In the quarterfinals, the Eagles defeated Gustavus Adolphus with another dominant 5-1 win. Now cruising, the Eagles faced Trinity (Texas) in the semifinals and retaliated for a 7-2 regular season loss with a 5-1 dismantling, not dropping a set at singles play.
The final matched the Eagles against top ranked Washington and Lee, and propelled by a sweep of the doubles, Emory crushed the previously unbeaten Generals, 5-1, with Tien and Arellano clinching the title with singles wins and keeping the dynasty intact. Emory has now won a record 18 consecutive NCAA championship matches, to go along with its record conference match winning streak.
Throughout the year, the Eagles played one of the nation's toughest schedules. Regular season matches included victories over nationally-ranked Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.), Williams (Ma.), and Middlebury (Vt.). The squad continued its custom of playing teams outside of Division III, such as Georgia State, Armstrong Atlantic (Ga.), and North Carolina-Wilmington, testing its mettle against higher (and often international) competition. Back in the fall, the Eagles amassed victories in ITA South Regional play, with teammates Serena Burkard and Marasigan meeting in the singles final, and Shapiro and Tien teaming for the doubles title.
Intercollegiate Tennis Association
Richelle Marasigan Singles, Doubles Stockton, CA (St. Mary's)
Linda Tien Singles, Doubles Tampa, FL (King)
Jamie Chan Doubles Lakeland, FL (Lakeland Christian)
Indu Anand Doubles Burr Ridge, IL (Hinsdale Central)
Samantha Shapiro Doubles Deerfield, IL (Deerfield)
Serena Burkard Singles Indianapolis, IN
All-University Athletic Association
Richelle Marasigan First Team Stockton, CA (St. Mary's)
Linda Tien First Team Tampa, FL (King)
Indu Anand First Team Burr Ridge, IL (Hinsdale Central)
Samantha Shapiro First Team Deerfield, IL (Deerfield)
Cristina Arellano First Team Budapest, Hungary (American International School)