Rome, GA—The 2017 ITA Oracle Cup, held at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College, featured top male and female players from four divisions (DII, DIII, NAIA, and JUCO) of collegiate tennis. Marion Military Institute's Karen Yan represented the Southern Region of the Junior College division. She earned that honor by winning the 2017 Southern Regional Singles Championship in Meridian, MS, in September.
During the three-day event, Yan competed against some of the best JUCO players in the nation. On Thursday, she squared off against the tournament's No. 1-seeded player, Kalani Soli from Tyler Junior College, and lost in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. On Friday, she faced the No. 4-seeded player, Valentina Gonzalez from Seminole State College, and suffered the same 6-0, 6-0 fate.
"Karen didn't play her best tennis in her first two matches," said MMI coach Charles Wright. "Granted, Karen played two of the best junior college players out there in Soli and Gonzalez, but she played a bit tentatively and wasn't as consistent off the ground as she normally is. However, those issues—her playing tentatively and her lack of consistency—could be attributed to her opponents' fierce ball-striking capabilities. Whenever Karen had a glimmer of hope, that glimmer was snuffed out by impeccable shots cross court or down the line. Neither of those girls missed a shot. Soli had less than a handful of unforced errors, and Gonzalez made only a few more than that."
On Saturday, Yan encountered her third and final opponent in the tournament, Modesto Junior College's Symone Jacques.
Yan pulled out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, only to see that lead evaporate. Jacques tied the match at 5-all. Yan played solidly in the next two games to take the first set, 7-5. With a little breathing room to work with, Yan went on to win the second set, 6-2.
"I was happy to see Karen bounce back in her final match," Wright said. "Karen played well in the first part of the first set and in all of the second set. Jacques hit a ton of balls with a ton of pace. Karen was able to open up the court on a number of occasions in the match. But, more importantly, she was able to deliver the goods on the shots after that."