After sweeping the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional tournament, freshman Jackie Shtemberg and junior Christina Contrafatto flew to Fort Myers, Fla., for the ITA National Small College Championships.
Shtemberg entered the singles tournament and placed sixth overall to be named an ITA All-American, making her the No. 6 player in the country among small colleges.
“I came into the tournament really nervous and knowing that the competition was going to be a lot more intense and my nerves totally took over my first match,” Shtemberg said. “Then I got over it a bit and won my next match.”
To get to sixth place, Shtemberg lost her opening match to the top-seeded player in the tournament, senior Elizabeth Bondi of Depauw University, with a 6-2, 6-0 score. It was the rookie’s first loss in 12 matches, breaking her winning streak and dropping her to 15-2 on the season. The rookie picked herself up to win her next match.
“I just was unable to pull it through unfortunately,” Shtemberg said. “But I will definitely feel a lot more confident next year since I will know how the tournament works and everything; that is if I get the honor of coming back again next year.”
Shtemberg then suffered a loss in the fifth-sixth place match to Siobhane Finicane of Pomona Pitzer College 7-5 (5), 6-3 to drop her record to 16-3. A year before, Contrafatto placed seventh in the same tournament for All-America honors.
“(Contrafatto) was a tremendous help to me all weekend in singles and in doubles,” Shtemberg said. “It would not have been the same without her.”
Contrafatto paired with Shtemberg in the doubles competition to take fifth overall for ITA All-America citations. After just half a semester of college, Shtemberg has already made a name for herself by collecting two All-America citations.
“I sure hope I can come to nationals all four years,” Shtemberg said. “I would be extremely happy with that and I hope to do well in the spring … Overall I just want to play the best I can and enjoy it and wherever it takes me, so be it.”
On the way to the fifth place finish, the duo lost its opening match 7-5, 5-7, 11-13 to senior Mona Iyer and junior Amy Staloch of Carnegie Mellon University. The loss also snapped a nine-match win streak by the pair.
“We just didn’t pull it out at the end because it was close and it was anybody’s game,” Contrafatto said. “The girls are more confident and more experienced here. Girls have been here so long that in tennis terminology they are called bullies.”
On the next day of competition, the twosome downed freshman Cayleigh Simpson and junior Renae Wright of Trinity University 6-2, 2-6, 10-6.
The pair then edged past seniors Sonya Reynlolds and Sara Sargent of Swarthmore College in the fifth-sixth place match 6-7 (3), 6-2, 10-7 for the victory, bringing its overall doubles record to 15-3.
“I think when you’re at a national event, the motivation isn’t a concern, it’s just controlling their emotions,” head coach Scott Dicheck said. “We have two talented players; we want them to play with confidence and be aggressive. The competition is going to be the best they’ve seen in the fall.”
After a conference championship and two All-Americans, women’s tennis will resume action in the spring.