CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Sophomore Mina Karamercan of the No. 6-ranked Tufts University women's tennis team made her first career appearance in the singles competition at the 2017 NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Championships on Thursday, as she fell, 7-6, 6-4, to senior Ashnaa Rao of Johns Hopkins during the Round of 32 at The Champions Tennis Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
|Mina Karamercan has high expectations for her Jumbos moving forward.|
Karamercan, who is a two-time All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) First Team selection in singles, showcased her resiliency in this match. Rao jumped out to a 5-2 lead in opening-set action, and then Karamercan fought all the way back and claimed a 6-5 lead. Rao claimed the next game, evening the set, 6-6, and then won the tiebreaker, 7-4.
The Istanbul, Turkey, native needed a victory in the second set, in order to force a decisive third set, but Rao claimed a 6-4 win. Rao will compete against sophomore Caroline Casper of Pomona-Pitzer in the Round of 16, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals of the 32-player singles competition.
Karamercan powered the 2016-17 Jumbos to the most wins (15) since the 2010-11 season and their first appearance in the semifinals of the conference tournament since 2011. Karamercan also was a vital component behind the Jumbos hosting a six-team NCAA Regional Tournament on May 12-14, as the Jumbos compiled a runner-up finish in the event.
The squad defeated Amherst, 5-1, in the first round of the NESCAC Championship on May 5. The Jumbos also downed the visiting Mammoths, 5-4, on April 19, with the win snapping a 32-match losing streak to Amherst, ranging from 1992-2016. The win was the first for the Jumbos over the Mammoths since the 1991 season.
"The goal definitely for next year is to make it into the finals of the NESCAC Championship and the Elite Eight," Karamercan said. "We just want to get better every year, so the goal for senior year is winning the NESCAC Championship and making it into the finals of the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, the national championship is always in the back of our heads, but I feel like it is easier to reach that by thinking in smaller steps."
Karamercan's 2017 spring season was one full of accomplishments, as she took control of the top slot in singles action on March 29. The top-notch athlete showcased that she is a star on the rise, going 5-0 in her first five matches at the top slot, en route to finishing 10-6 at the No. 1 slot. For the entire 2017 season, she boasted a 13-8 mark in singles, along with a 5-1 showing during the 2016 fall season.
Karamercan, who earned All-Conference First Team recognition in doubles during 2016 and Second Team honors in 2017, went 15-3 in singles during the spring 2016 season. She has also been a steady presence on the doubles side, going 25-14 in doubles action in two seasons during spring action, with all but one match being at the No. 1 slot.
She competed on the doubles side with junior Lauren Louks at the 2016 NCAA Doubles Championships, going 1-1, en route to advancing to the quarterfinals. The two superb athletes were named as the first alternate for the 16-team doubles competition at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
The second-year collegiate athlete also collected 2016 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III All-American honors on the doubles side, in addition to being named NESCAC Rookie of the Year last spring.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern