Tennis duo heads to Nationals

Anne Cruz
Laila El Dessouki (left) and Carmen Lai (right) stand on the tennis court.

Sophomore Laila El Dessouki and junior Carmen Lai, who were named NYU Athletics’ athletes of the week on Oct. 6, are gearing up for the United States Tennis Association/ITA National Small College Championships from Oct. 9 to 12 in Sumter, South Carolina.

NYU’s women’s tennis had successful individual performances at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championships in Geneva, New York, from Sept. 27 to 29. Thanks to this incredible duo, the Lady Violets were able to attain the Regional Doubles title. This season marks the first time NYU women’s tennis has produced an ITA champion, let alone two. The pair will earn ITA All-American honors and were named UAA athletes of the week on Sept. 29 for their achievements.

In the Small College Championships, El Dessouki and Lai will compete against doubles champions from the seven other ITA regions within the United States. The National Small College Championship comprises schools within NCAA Divisions II and III.

In the days leading up to Nationals, the Lady Violets attribute their success to their peers.

“The support of our teammates and our coach has been amazing,” El Dessouki said.

Lai agreed with her teammate, expressing gratitude toward the team.

“I’m so thankful for all the support and encouragement from my coaches and teammates,” Lai said.

Senior Alexandra Ziarko expressed the elation of the team at El Dessouki and Lai’s performance.

“My teammates and I couldn’t be more excited for Carmen and Laila,” Ziarko said. “This is a huge accomplishment for NYU women’s tennis. Although they are new to our team, we feel as if we’ve known them forever. They are an integral part of our team, and we wish them another great run.”

In regards to their upcoming competition, Lai and El Dessouki are focused on preparing mentally and physically in order to end their fall season with the best performance possible.

“We are trying to stay injury-free and positive for our upcoming tournament,” El Dessouki said.

Lai echoed El Dessouki, but emphasized the need to continue to hone their skills.

“Right now we are trying to stay healthy and improve our weaknesses in order to have better performance in Nationals,” Lai said.

The players are scheduled to begin the tournament on Thursday, Oct. 9, in a match against the second-seeded Washington and Lee University.

Over the fall season, Lai and El Dessouki have consistently persevered with a record of 7-2 in their last nine matches. With these performances, the Lady Violets have proven NYU’s growing presence in collegiate tennis.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 7 print edition. Email Anne Cruz at [email protected]

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