Seniors headline USTA Regionals
The Seton Hall University tennis team participated in the USTA/ITA Regional Championships this weekend at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., sending four Pirates players to the tournament.
It was the team’s fourth tournament of the fall season.
Rocio Portela and Chloe Sher, both senior co-captains, were The Hall’s top performers. In their fourth trip to the regional tournament, the duet was seeded 15th out of 64 pairs and advanced to the round of 16 in doubles play.
“I knew we could do better than we had in all our previous three years going to regionals,” Portela said. “I think going in, being our fourth year playing together, I was expecting the best results…I thought we were going to make it to semis.”
In the first round of doubles, Portela and Sher faced off against Cornell’s previously unbeaten Marika Cusick and Ryann Young. The Pirates’ pair won easily, only losing two games. The final score was 8-2.
“We were pretty fired up to get on the court and from the first point we were focused and intense,” Portela said.
Portela and Sher took the next match as well, this time by a score of 8-5.
On Sunday, the two ended up missing the quarterfinals after losing a close tiebreaker to Boston College’s Lexi Borr and Jessica Wacnik, 7-8 (1). Borr and Wacnik were seeded third in the tournament.
Despite not reaching the semi-finals as Portela had hoped, she and Sher have had quite the season and have a chance to crack the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) regional doubles rankings in January.
“That would be awesome,” Portela said of their chances.
The success of the partners who have been roommates since freshman year can be attributed to chemistry.
“They have great chemistry. The two of them act like sisters,” head coach Greg Wyzykowski said.
Portela weighed in as well. “It’s easy to play with someone that knows you well,” she said. “It’s been getting better every year.”
For both of them, this past weekend was bittersweet. They went to the regional tournament each of the past four years, and this one was their last.
“It’s a strange feeling, but it made me have the best fall I have ever had here,” Portela said not just of her last regional tournament, but of her last fall season at Seton Hall.
As for the other two Pirates selected to play in the tournament, the weekend did not go as planned. Junior Madison Shoemaker and sophomore Hannah Liljekvist had to withdraw from doubles play after Liljekvist suffered an injury in qualifying singles play.
“Hannah is rehabbing and should be ready for the spring,” Wyzykowski said.
The team will wrap up its fall season next week at the NJIT Tournament. Matches will begin on Friday.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.