All roads lead to Rome (Georgia)

Photo by Genevieve Humphreys

On Oct. 17, three Trinity tennis players participated in the the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Cup in Rome, Georgia. Senior sisters Mary and Zoe Kaffen returned to the ITA Cup for the second year in a row, while junior Cameron Krimbill made his ITA Cup debut.

The ITA Cup is a tournament where tennis players from four different collegiate divisions have the opportunity to qualify for Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, a tournament in which they would compete against the top Division I players in the nation.

“I’m excited about the level of competition we get to see at the tournament. It’s not just best DIII doubles teams we get to see but also the best [Division II], [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics] and [Junior College] teams that make it to small college nationals,” Zoe Kaffen said.

The Kaffens played in the Division III women’s doubles bracket and opened the tournament with a 6–3, 7–5 victory over Bethel University’s Grace and Maggie Riermann. Despite the strong start, a 7–5, 4–6, 6–10 loss to the fourth-seeded team from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in the quarterfinals knocked the Kaffens into the consolation bracket. They would go on to tie for seventh place after a 7–6 (8–6), 4–6, 6–10 loss to Emory University’s Emma Cartledge and Defne Olcay.

“Considering that we did not make it past the first round last time, we would like to try and win a round,” said Mary Kaffen ahead of the tournament.

The tandem achieved their pre-tournament goal, showing improvement both in the tournament and before hand. In contrast to last year, the pair’s win at the ITA Southwest Region Doubles Championship for the second year in a row allowed them to qualify to play in the tournament automatically.

“It’s a little bit different this year. Last time we had to do a play-in, but this year we are actually in the tournament, so it will be a new experience,” Mary Kaffen said.

Krimbill participated in the Division III Men’s Singles bracket, and his first match was against Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which he lost 6–4, 2–6, 2–6. Krimbill ultimately tied for 11th place after a victory over Emory University’s Antonio Mora in the consolation bracket.

“Before ITA Cup we played two tournaments: one DI invitational in Corpus [Christi] and, of course, the ITA Regional Tournament which you have to win in order to qualify for small college nationals,” Zoe Kaffen said.

Preseason tournaments and matches are valuable tools in preparing for the upcoming season, which begins in January, especially with matches played against higher level teams that should strengthen the Tigers ahead of facing tougher teams in the winter and spring.

“Since this is our pre-season, we’ve played four or five matches, mostly against Division I schools. The only Division III tournament was our Regional Tournament that we just played. We played [the United States] Air Force [Academy], we played Corpus Christi, a bunch of DI’s. That’s been helping us get ready [for the upcoming season],” Mary Kaffen said.

After the tournament, Krimbill expressed an optimistic outlook on his performance.

“I felt that my outcome wasn’t negative in any way. Of course, I wish I could have done better but these are some of the best college players in Division III. I was pleased with my personal performance. I had three matches all over two hours long, and so I definitely had to exert a lot of energy and play well,” Krimbill said.

Trinity’s tennis players work hard in the pre-season and challenge themselves to improve to meet team goals and personal goals they set for the upcoming season.

“As a team, we’re always trying to make it past that first round in the NCAA’s. We usually end up playing Pomona [-Pitzer College] and we usually end up losing, but last year we were super close to beating them, so hopefully, we get past that first round,” Mary Kaffen said.

On a smaller scope, Krimbill expressed personal goals for the upcoming season, which opens in January of 2020.

“My personal goal is to try and get better physically and mentally on the tennis court and to try and help my teammates get better as well,” Krimbill said.