Eudice Chong ’18 claimed the first-ever NCAA Division III tennis title for the Cardinals in a thrilling 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory in the title match of the NCAA Division III women’s tennis singles championship in Mason, Ohio on May 23.
Named the NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year, as well as the ITA Division III Rookie of the Year, Chong completed the 2014-15 campaign undefeated in singles play (22-0), dropping just two sets all season, both of them 4-6 to Joulia Likhanskaia of Bowdoin, whom she played for the third time this year in the NCAA finals.
Chong also earned All-America honors in doubles this spring as she teamed with Helen Klass-Warch ’18 to reach the NCAA Division III doubles quarterfinals, losing a three-set match to the top-seeded pair from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Cardinal tandem amassed a 20-4 record at No. 1 doubles this year.
In 1994, Tom Reifenheiser ’94 made his third straight trip to the NCAAs and returned as men’s national runner-up in singles as a three-time All-American. He is the only other Wesleyan tennis player to reach an NCAA Division III championship match.
In the championship match against Likhanskaia, Chong looked to try and repeat the result she had against her during the last match they played May 1 at Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC team championship, where prevailed 6-0, 6-1. At Nationals, Chong jumped ahead, 5-1, in the opening set before Likhanskaia captured the next three games to tighten the set at 5-4. But Chong held serve to take the opening set, 6-4. Each player then held serve for the first nine
games of the second set as Likhanskaia led, 5-4. Chong was broken in the 10th game as she dropped only her second set of the season. Each player came up with a break during the first four games of the deciding set as the game score stood 2-2. It was 5-4 in Likhanskaia’s favor after five straight holds of serve. Chong also held to make it 5-5, broke Likhanskaia in the 11th game for a 6-5 edge, and served out the match for the 7-5 win for the national crown. She then received her national championship trophy moments after coming through with the deciding point on a put-away inside the line to Likhanskaia’s forehand.
In total at the NCAAs, Chong went 5-0 and 10-1 in sets. Seeded first in the 32-player bracket, Chong won her opening match vs. Laina Matsuda of LaVerne, 6-2, 6-3, before capturing her second-round encounter vs. Brooke Donnelly of Washington & Lee, 6-0, 6-0. Her quarterfinal victory was a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over the No. 8-seed Ariana Iranpour of Chicago. Chong then dispatched Michelle Satterfield of Emory, 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals.