Ng ’17 to represent Dartmouth at NCAA Singles Championship
Taylor Ng ’17 began playing tennis with her older sister when she was around five years old, but did not commit fully to the sport until her junior year of high school. Now, as a sophomore at the Colleg, Ng is the number one singles player on the College’s women’s team, is ranked in the top-100 players nationally and has helped to lead the Big Green to one of their most successful years in program history.
Ng enjoyed playing several sports until high school, when she narrowed her scope to tennis and lacrosse.
“I like how it’s very physical,” Ng said. “I’m more of someone who likes sprints…and that’s kind of what tennis is, you need to be able to do quick bursts of energy and recover, and as much as I enjoyed soccer and lacrosse, it was just a different kind of conditioning.”
Ng also enjoyed the kind of flexibility that tennis offers its players, since players can compete as individuals or as a team.
“Playing singles you can rely on yourself — you have the most trust usually in yourself — but also, I loved doubles and the dynamic aspect of it,” she said. “To be able to play both of those in junior tournaments was really fun.”
Ng said that she has been able to compete in both doubles and singles at Dartmouth.
“Most people do both,” Ng said. “I actually used to like doubles a lot more but now I think I like singles more. I don’t really know why. They’re both fun.”
Her high school had an “unusually good” tennis program with a decent array of players, Ng said. Ng played only in high school seasons, unlike many other elite players who travel the country playing tournaments and do not compete at the high-school level.
“I liked having a team,” Ng said. “That’s probably what appealed to me about high school tennis.”
Ng stopped playing in tournaments when she was 14 years old, not resuming until her junior year of high school when she began considering playing tennis in college. Faced with a tournament record lacking compared to other players her age, Ng sent coaches emails with her high school record as well as tournaments she would be competing at later in the year.
“I sat down and had a thought [about] how I’d feel about if tennis weren’t as prominent in my life and that kind of made me sad,” Ng said. “After that, I definitely knew I wanted to pursue tennis.”
Some coaches came to see Ng play after receiving her emails.
“[Dartmouth coach Robert Dallis] actually drove four hours down, not knowing anything about me, and just watched me play a tournament,” Ng said. “I feel so indebted to him because he took a chance on me and gave me an opportunity to grow. In terms of choosing where to go…when you see anyone put that much effort into you, obviously they care… I just wanted to go here.”
Dallis said that Ng has a great ability to focus and handle pressure during a match.
Ng said that her playing style differs from that of many other collegiate players. She said that most players, especially at the elite levels, “pound from the baseline” so there is not a lot of volleying.
“When I was younger, I was very, very weak, and so people could just beat me by hitting it hard to the end of the baseline. A lot of times I would just hit the ball and run to the net and try to hit volleys, because I had pretty decent reactions,” she said. “So, I would say that my game is a little bit different from other people’s because I’m not really afraid to come up to the net, and I think that throws people off their rhythms sometimes.”
Dallis named vision, athleticism, movement, ability to change direction and a “great backhand” as Ng’s particular strengths.
Ng found the adjustment from playing a few months of the year to six days a week to be easier than she anticipated, as she liked the repetition and the structure that practices gave her day.
Ng’s doubles partner Kristina Mathis ’18 described Ng as an “all-court player” with a personality that lightens the mood at practices.
“I didn’t have very much experience with doubles when I came to college, and she really helped me know what to do during a point and where to be at the net,” Mathis said. “[Ng] helps me mentally by giving me some confidence because sometimes I can get down on myself. She pumps me up.”
Ng is currently 36-6 in singles play and 21-1 at the number one position. Ng was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional Player to Watch this year. Ng was also unanimously chosen as the Ivy League player of the year and made first team all Ivy for both singles and doubles.
Ng will be heading to the NCAA singles championship in Waco, Texas to compete in the singles events. She is the first Dartmouth player ever selected to play in this championship, and is the only contender from the Ivy League this year.
Ng said her main preparations would be mental and that confidence is the key to her game play.
“My goal is to win the whole thing,” Ng said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be really cool to be able to represent Dartmouth out there.”