Four floors below the Jadwin 'Jungle,' an extraordinary Tiger is holding court.
It is a far cry from the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon upon which she has twice played in the junior competition. But for freshman Kavitha Krishnamurthy of the women's tennis team, four floors below the Jadwin 'Jungle' is exactly where she wants to be.
After years of touring the world's junior circuit and battling her way into some professional competitions, this weekend's Princeton Invitational will give Krish-namurthy a chance to win an individual title on her home turf.
The invitational will be the final individual tournament before women's tennis turns to its grueling dual-meet schedule. Krishna-murthy, the singles tournament's top seed, will lead a Princeton team ranked No. 46 nationwide against some of the East's best competition.Princeton will enter eight players in the singles tournament and four doubles teams. Senior Amanda Hastings-Phillips will be the No. 5 seed in the singles competition. She will also pair with junior Gailor Large as the tournament's top-seeded doubles tandem.
In the early going of the spring campaign, the Tigers will be without the services of last year's No. 1, Blair Farr, who could be out for the season with a shoulder injury.
For the 26-2 Krishnamurthy, the tournament seedings could lead to a familiar finale. The No. 2 seed in singles this weekend will be Boston College's Cynthia Tow, whom Krishnamurthy has already faced twice this year. In two tournament finals, September's Cissie Leary Invitational and last month's Georgia Invitational, Krishna-murthy dealt Tow the only two blemishes of her 17-2 season to date.
Krishnamurthy made another mark in Princeton tennis history this week, when the Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its weekly national rankings. Krishna-murthy ascended to No. 13 in the country, the highest mid-season ranking of any player in Princeton women's tennis history.
The new ranking marks a culmination of an extraordinary opening to her collegiate career during which she won 25 straight matches, six straight tournaments and advanced in the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
"Even when you do have talented freshmen, the more common path is to struggle a little bit. Kavitha is exceptional," head coach Louise Gengler said. "She didn't have a very deep record. There were a lot of unknowns.
"The talent and her will to work for it, all that was there. She very quietly went about her business and established herself as the best player on the team and one of the best in the country."