Taylor Ng ’17 shines in ITA All-Americans

by Henry Arndt | 9/30/14 4:48pm

Taylor Ng ’17 caught fire in Los Angeles, reaching the qualifying rounds for the ITA All-American Championships. The Dartmouth sophomore cooled off yesterday, however, falling in straight sets to Stanford University sophomore Caroline Doyle 6-2, 6-1 before besting DePaul University junior Ana Vladutu 6-3, 6-1.

Ng won three straight matches in prequalifying without dropping a set against some of the stiffest competition the ITA has to offer. The monumental effort earned Ng the right to play in the qualifying rounds of the tournament for a shot at the main draw.

In the final round of pre-qualifying, Ng defeated Old Dominion University freshman and member of the Bulgarian Fed Cup team Borislava Botusharova, currently ranked 615th in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association. Ng cruised in the first set and secured the victory in a hard-fought second set tiebreaker for a final tally of 6-2, 7-6(8-6).

Big Green head coach Bob Dallis said Ng’s “one bad game” came at the beginning of the second set.

“Her opponent then started to move much better, and at the beginning of the second set she really invested a lot of energy in getting to balls, making good choices and making things harder on Taylor,” he said. “Taylor had to really respond against her, and the level of tennis in the middle to end of that second set was really high.”

Botusharova managed to save three match points in the second set, but Ng held her nerve and finished the freshman off, displaying the confidence and maturity that bolstered Ng’s play all weekend.

Ng’s victory over Botusharova was made possible by an impressive opening day in which she won back-to-back matches over highly lauded opponents.

Ng drew Duke University’s redshirt senior Rachel Kahan in the first round, marking the second straight year the Big Green’s entry in the tournament squared off against an ACC senior in the opening round. In her three years of play, Kahan has tallied a record of 74 wins and 11 losses in singles, including a 28-0 record her freshman year.

Ng sent former ACC rookie of the year Kahan home early. Ng stormed out of the gates going up 5-0 in the first set, but nerves settled in and she lost four straight.

“I think it was important to be able to identify how I react to being very nervous and knowing how to deal with that, taking a deep breath and clearing your mind.” Ng said. “In the first set I sat down after losing four games in a row, and Bob just told me to take a deep breath. That was the most important lesson I took from that match, and in the next matches I tried to slow down and really concentrate in the tight spots.”

Dealing with these feelings, Dallis said, is part of tennis.

“It really manifests itself in the sport we play since you’re out there by yourself and you can’t pass the ball off,” Dallis said. “We talk a lot in practice about acknowledging your nerves and figuring out what happens when you get nervous and what you can do about it.”

After collecting herself, Ng closed out the first 6-4. The second set tiebreaker saw Ng down 6-3, but she saved set points, fought back and kept it from going to three sets, winning 7-6(8-6) and setting the tone for her tournament.

The win, Ng said, led to a break in character.

“I would say I’m generally a quiet player but on the last point of the first match, I yelled pretty loudly,” Ng said. “I was so proud to wear the green and to get a win for Dartmouth.”

After catching her breath, Ng hit the court again where she met No. 8 seed sophomore Aldila Sutjiadi of the University of Kentucky. Stujiadi has competed in Wimbledon girls’ singles and doubles and reached the Australian Open junior doubles semifinals in 2011.

But the Dartmouth sophomore charged in the first set, winning 6-2 before taking the second 7-5.

The ITA invited Ng to compete based on her results and ranking as a freshman on the tennis team. Although co-captain Katherine Yau ’16 and Jacqueline Crawford ’17 were eligible to play, both are off campus this fall. Ng is the only member of the Dartmouth women’s tennis team in the tournament.

“Unless you have an unbelievable junior’s record, most freshmen don’t get invited because they don’t have a college ranking yet,” Yau said.

To Dallis, Ng can play all-court tennis — a big strength.

“Before every match, Taylor and I talk about her game plan,” he said, “which is to use all of her shots, use space, use angles, hit drop shots and come to net.”


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