Clark Advances to the NCAA D-III Singles Championship Match
Emory University sophomore Gabrielle Clark won both of her singles matches on Friday, including a thrilling three-set come-from-behind win in the semifinals, to earn a spot in the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Singles Championship Match in Cary, NC.
Clark, seeded third in the singles draw, opened up play on Friday against fifth-seeded Sonja Meighan of Washington and Lee University. She jumped out to a quick lead, winning the first set 6-3. The second set proved more troublesome for Clark, who fell behind 5-1, but was able to rally off six-straight game wins, to claim the second set 7-5 and advance in the tournament.
Clark would face second-seeded Kristin Lim of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in the semifinals, the reigning D-III Singles Champion. Clark dropped the first set, and fell behind 4-0 in the second set before her comeback began. She would eventually take a 6-5 lead in the second frame, before Lim won her sixth game of the set to force a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Clark was able to edge Lim, 8-6, forcing a third and final set.
This time, it would be Clark who set the pace in the set, jumping out to a 5-2 lead before Lim battled it back to a 5-4 score. However, the Eagles' sophomore would claim her sixth game of the set, winning the match and advancing to Saturday's finals.
Clark will take on top-seeded freshman Lok-Sze Leung of Middlebury College in the championship match at 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 26th. The two have met twice already this season, with Leung claiming victories in each of the first two matches, accounting for two of Clark's three losses to Division III opponents this season.
Clark becomes the fifth player in the history of the Emory women's tennis program to advance to the finals of the NCAA Singles Draw, joining current Eagles' coach Amy Bryant (1995), along with Mary Ellen Gordon (2003 and 2004), Jolyn Taylor (2003 and 2004) and Lorne McManigle (2009). Gordon and McManigle each won NCAA Championships when they reached the finals.
Later on Friday, Clark will also team up with senior Zahra Dawson in the quarterfinals of the doubles draw. The Eagles' duo will be taking on Alyssa Roberg and Courtney Lawless of Whitman College. Should Emory advance, the doubles semifinal and final matches will be played on Saturday at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, NC.