Rao Wins USTA/ITA National Small College Singles Championship
SUMTER, SC - Sophomore Ashnaa Rao continues to make history for the Johns Hopkins women's tennis team as she won the 2014 USTA/ITA National Small College Singles Championship Saturday morning. Already the first player in program history to win the USTA/ITA Southeast Singles Championship, she is the first JHU tennis player, male or female, to win a USTA/ITA National Championship.
Rao won three matches in three days to win the singles championship and earn a spot in the "Super Bowl" Championship Saturday afternoon. She opened the tournament with a bang on Thursday, upsetting the number one seed in straight sets. Rao beat Caroline Ward of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by a 6-1, 6-3 score to advance to the semifinals.
On Friday, she faced off against the number four seed, Beatrice Rosen of Emory. It was a rematch of last year's NCAA Semifinals that saw the two battle at third singles. That match never finished but Rao led 6-3, 4-5 when the match was called in favor of Emory (5-1). This time, she needed a total of just 18 games to beat Rosen as she won 6-4, 6-2 to move onto the title match.
The final was a match up of unseeded players as Rao took on Megan Humphreys of UW-Whitewater, who had upset the number two seed en route to the finals. Rao took the first set, 6-2, but Humphreys took the second set, 6-3, to force a third. Rao prevailed with a 6-4 win in the deciding set to take the title. The win improved Rao's record this season to 9-0 in singles and advanced her to the Super Bowl, where she took on Nour Abbes, the NAIA Champion from Xavier (LA). Abbes handed Rao her first loss of the season, 6-3, 6-1, to advance to the Super Bowl title match.
The loss in the Super Bowl ends the fall portion of the Johns Hopkins women's tennis schedule. The Blue Jays will return to action in February at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. Hopkins will be seeking its third straight title as they battle the top teams in Division III.