For sophomore tennis players Karisse Bendijo and Allie Tierney, Fall Break wasn’t a time of rest and relaxation. The pair traveled to Alabama to compete in the ITA Championships from Oct. 14-17.
Bendijo’s victories in both the singles and doubles brackets during their regional qualifier last month meant that she would compete in both tournaments, being one of three competitors to do so.
The first day for the Lions was one of upsets, as the pair knocked off the fourth seeded team of juniors Lauren Lukas and Trelsle Sadler from Washington and Lee University. In their opening match, Bendijo and Tierney beat their opponents 6-2, 6-4. Bendijo also played her first singles match that day, beating third-seeded Jennifer Kung from the University of Chicago 6-3, 6-3.
“It was pretty draining,” she said. “After the first day I was so tired.”
On the second day, the duo continued their campaign with two doubles matches. They first took on top seeded senior Chrissy Hu and junior Kendra Higgins also from Chicago. The unseeded Lions fell to the two-time champions 6-3, 6-0, ending their progress in the tournament. Their other match of the day was for third place, where Bendijo and Tierney defeated senior Lorne McManigle and junior Zahra Dawson from Emory University. For the two sophomores, their season together ended 15-1 and was worthy of All-American honors.
“(Bendijo) and I work really well together,” Tierney said. “Our styles of play compliment each other nicely and we were able to communicate in a way where if one of us is having a bad day, we can pick each other up so we still end up playing a good match.”
While the tournament was over for Tierney, Bendijo was still active in the singles’ bracket. On the third day of ITAs she squared off against Samantha Frank from Gustavus Aldolphus College, another unseeded player. In a hard fought match, Bendijo fell to Frank by a score of 7-5, 7-5. She moved on to the third place match against 1st seeded Lauren Chen, a junior from Carnegie Mellon University. Chen defeated the unseeded Bendijo 6-3, 6-2, but Bendijo walked away with All-American honors once again.
“At first I was a little disappointed, but now I realize how much I’ve accomplished this season,” Bendijo said. “I achieved my personal goal of winning regionals and breaking 50 wins. I’m trying to follow Jackie Shtemberg’s lead.”
Bendijo and Tierney have had one of the best finishes for the women’s tennis team this season. Even better, the duo are just sophomores, paving the way for more success in their athletic careers here at the College.