The women’s tennis team ended its memorable fall season with three All-Americans competing in the Oracle ITA Cup on Oct. 17 and 18 in Rome, Georgia.
After losing her first two matches on Thursday, Stern first-year Karina Jensrud bounced back with a win on the last day of competition and finished in a tie for 15th place in singles play. The duo of Stern junior Anna Maria Buraya and Liberal Studies first-year Anastasiia Balyk placed ninth in doubles competition after winning two out of three matches.
All three players struggled on day one of the competition, which Buraya attributed to nerves.
“The first day was definitely a tough one for me, mentally,” Balyk said. “To be brutally honest, my performance was not there, and I kind of dragged my partner down with me in the match.”
However, Jensrud, Buraya and Balyk learned from their mistakes and were able to perform better on Friday.
“Even though I didn’t really have pressure in the beginning, I probably felt it a bit because it was nationals,” Jensrud said. “But then after I lost my first match, I just felt even less pressure, and it was just me playing tennis.”
For Jensrud and Balyk, it was a special rookie season nonetheless, considering they played in the prestigious tournament — and earned All-American honors as well as qualifying for nationals.
“It’s really cool to be able to achieve the standards,” Jensrud said. “Freshman year, even though college is tough, being able to have done something and shine a light on everything was really cool.”
On Friday, the doubles team of Buraya and Balyk rebounded from their slow start by winning both of their matches, including a thriller 10-8 super tiebreaker victory against Bethel University.
“I think that match was really close and every point really mattered,” Buraya said. “I think neither me or Anastasiia were playing at our best throughout the whole match, but we really managed to pull the slack for each other in different elements, and the energy throughout the match from both sides was really good.”
Overall, the fall season was viewed as a success and a preview of what to expect for the spring season.
“We have had good success at the ITA regional championships leading into this year,” Head Coach Horace Choy said. “Last year, we sent a different doubles team to the Oracle ITA Cup and the year before that, we had both finalists in singles and doubles at the regional championship, ultimately sending three players to Nationals that year, too.”
The team has high expectations for the spring season, when the Violets return to action at Swarthmore College on Feb. 21.
“I am actually super pumped about spring season; I think this is the strongest team and lineup we have ever had,” Buraya said. “I think everyone was pumped and fired up to qualify for nationals, as a team, which is something I don’t think we have ever done before, but I am completely positive that if we compete and work hard, we can do it, so I am pumped.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Oct. 27, 2019, print edition. Email Arvind Sriram at [email protected]