Women’s tennis competes at ITA Regionals, Schrage wins singles title| Oct 17, 2018
Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the Princeton women’s tennis team traveled to Yale University where, from Friday Oct. 12 to Tuesday Oct. 16, they competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championships.
Sophomore Stephanie Schrage came away with a singles victory, the first Tiger to win a singles regional title since 2012, for the tournament and thus claiming her bid to play at ITA Fall Nationals in Surprise, Arizona, in November.
To open up play, Tigers included in the main draw singles were third-seed Schrage, who co-led the team last year with 22 singles wins, freshman Brianna Shvets, freshman Grace Joyce, senior captain Nicole Kalhorn, junior Clare McKee and sophomore Nathalie Rodilosso. Pairs Shvets and McKee, Rodilosso and Schrage, and Kalhorn and Joyce were elected to the doubles draw. Schrage commented on the energy of the team going into the weekend.
“This was our fourth tournament so far this year, so I think the team felt ready and comfortable with competition at this point. We are also one of the stronger teams in the region and had a lot of seeded players in the tournament, and I think that definitely gave us confidence going into the weekend,” she said.
Joyce and Rodilosso started play on Friday in the first round, while the rest of the singles players received a bye. The two players both advanced to Saturday play after beating a Seton Hall player, 7–6(4), 3–6, 6–2, and a Fairleigh Dickinson player, 6–0, 6–2, respectively. Duo Kalhorn and Joyce were the sole Princeton doubles players to advance in the tournament after crushing a Yale duo 8–0. Shvets and McKee were defeated by a Rutgers pair, and a Penn team took down Rodilosso and Schrage.
On Saturday, McKee and Schrage were the only two Princeton singles players to win and advance to Sunday’s play. McKee defeated a Rutgers players in two sets, 6–2 and 7–6, in her first round, and went on to defeat a Boston College player in a tough, evenly matched round of 32, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2. Schrage took down a Seton Hall player, 7–6(8), 6–4, first, and then capped a decisive comeback against Boston University, 4–6, 6–2, 6–1, to move on to Sunday. Kalhorn and Joyce prevailed in the round of 64, the first of the day, but were both eliminated from the round of 32, the second, after defeats by St. John’s and Syracuse, respectively. Shvets was taken out by Columbia in the round of 64. For the doubles play, Kalhorn and Joyce again remained in play after another decisive, crushing win against West Point, 8–2.
After Sunday, only one Princeton player remained standing for the quarterfinals on Monday: Schrage, who dominated a Massachusetts player in two sets, 6–2 and 6–4. McKee unfortunately lost a Yale match, 6–2, 7–5, and did not advance in play. In the doubles quarterfinals, Kalhorn and Joyce battled a Penn pair back and forth and eventually lost a hard-fought 8–7(4).
Schrage kept the momentum going to move on to the semifinals, beating Syracuse’s Sofya Golubovskaya 1–6, 7–6(3), 6–2, in an exciting comeback. For her semifinal match Tuesday morning, Schrage took on Harvard’s Jenna Friedel. After winning the first set 6–4 and then losing the second set 5–7, Schrage eventually came away with success in the third set 6–3.
“All of the players in the semifinals were from different schools … so I was happy to be able to represent Princeton at that stage of the tournament. Obviously I wanted to win for myself, but I also wanted to win for the team because we have a bunch of talented players, we work hard, and we make each other better. I wanted the end result of the tournament to reflect that. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself though because I knew if I competed my best, the team would be proud,” Schrage said.
Later that day, Schrage took down Penn's Iuliia Bryzgalova in a walkover to assert her ITA Northeast Regionals title, capping a triumphant comeback from her loss in last year’s finals.
“It felt really great [to win]. It showed me that all of the effort I’ve put in so far this year is paying off. I’m also encouraged by the fact that I’ve been feeling a little better every tournament and I’m hoping that pattern will carry over into nationals,” Schrage said on looking forward to the rest of season.
Before heading to nationals starting on Nov. 7, Schrage, along with the rest of the team, will head to the FGCU Clay Court Classic in Fort Myers, Florida, from Oct. 26 to 28. After Nationals, the season will pick up again at the end of January.