The women’s tennis team pulled off two incredible all-Columbia finals this week at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regionals, winning both the singles and doubles titles en route to earning its second Nationals bid in each.
Sophomore Kanika Vaidya took the singles title, while first-year Tina Jiang and junior Crystal Leung won doubles.
“I was impressed that we were able to dominate this year having a much stronger region,” head coach Ilene Weintraub, CC ’02, said. “I had a feeling that we might do that. We’ve established a tradition of excellence in our program—and especially this event—the last two years.”
In the singles tournament, Vaidya and senior Bianca Sanon entered as two of three highest-ranked singles players. Sanon breezed through her four matches, winning each in straight sets to reach the final.
Meanwhile, Vaidya had to rally back after dropping the first set against Boston College’s Lexi Borr in the round of 32, and again needed three sets against Yale’s Annie Sullivan in the quarterfinals. Eventually Vaidya dispatched all four of her opponents to set up a finals match against Sanon, her doubles partner.
Vaidya finished with the upper hand and the title, winning in straight sets 7-6, 7-6.
Throughout the weekend, Vaidya and Sanon joined forces to reach the doubles final and in the process became the No. 29 doubles team in the nation. Together they dominated, winning two matches by a score of 8-2, two by a score of 8-3, and one 8-5 to advance to the final and face their Lion teammates, Jiang and Leung.
Jiang and Leung faced a couple of 8-6 scares, but eventually advanced to the all-Light Blue final that saw 64 teams dwindle down to two Lion duos.
“We have a mantra this year in Columbia athletics, which is to turn it blue,” Weintraub said. “I feel like we literally turned it blue this week at the regionals, having all Columbia blue on all the courts for each final.”
In the final, Jiang and Leung took advantage of the fatigued Vaidya and Sanon, both of whom played in the singles semifinals and final the same day. They pulled off the friendly upset, winning 8-7 in a tiebreaker.
Though it was certainly an upset, the result was by no means a surprise.
“I know how talented Crystal is at the net and she has such great volleys and great hands,” Weintraub said. “Our first-year, Tina Jiang, is one of the best players on our team and she stepped in right away and is playing on the highest level.”
With these two titles, the Lions added two more automatic bids into the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which begin Nov. 7. The team will send Vaidya, Sanon, Jiang, and Leung to represent the Light Blue at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.