Women’s tennis captain Emma Chow ’15 shined at last weekend’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association New England Regional Championship, capturing second place and a qualification for the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in South Carolina with her partner Tess Trinka ’18. The pair will participate in the tournament from October 9 through October 12.  

This marks the first time the team will be represented at this event. The pair opened the Regional Championship seeded second, which surprised members of the team seeing as Chow and Trinka had only played together for a couple practices before the event.

“In the end, we actually lived up to our seeding,” Chow said. “I honestly don’t know how they came up with those. The team that beat us should have been seeded much higher as well.”

Head Coach Hobie Holbach is known for frequently mixing and matching his doubles line-ups, and he highly doubts that Chow and Trinka will play together in the spring.

“It’s great when [Chow] gets to play with a first-year,” Holbach said. “She can teach [her] along the way, by example and with words.”

Chow and Trinka’s path to the finals took them past the No. 1 pairs from Wesleyan and Amherst, as well as the No. 3 team from Williams. They escaped some close matches on the way, including a 9-8 (7-5) tiebreaker win and an 8-6 win.

“It was really about keeping our mental poise,” Chow said. “We had a few tight matches we could have lost.”

Chow said that she believes she and Trinka can win in South Carolina. Holbach said that competition in the Northeast region, where four of the nation’s top 10 teams reside, is comparable to what they should expect to see at nationals. Chow did note that Emory, last year’s national champion, would likely earn a spot in the tournament as well.

Chow received a tennis racket for her fourth birthday and began her tennis career shortly after. Until coming to Bowdoin, her father was the only coach she ever had.

Through playing in doubles leagues as a child, she developed an appreciation for the game and is now an experienced doubles player with a mastery of positioning and an aggressive net game.

“She knows what she’s supposed to do,” Holbach said. “She understands the doubles game and in terms of understanding situations, she’s outstanding.”

Holbach also played a large part in developing Chow’s much improved net game.
“She goes to the net a lot because that’s what she’s best at,” he said. “I try to develop what they’re best at and avoid what they’re not so good at. Her whole game is structured around getting to the net… She probably does that more than anybody that she plays.”

This year, Chow has been developing a kick serve that reaches returners over their left shoulder, forcing right-handed players to hit a difficult backhand. In the past she tried to slice her serve down the “T” where the two services boxes meet. She still employs this technique on her approaches.

“She mostly slices,” sophomore Pilar Giffenig said. “On her forehand, she does hit topspin sometimes, but she mostly slices. It’s very low but it bounces deep so it’s hard to judge where it’s going to go. It makes it harder for the other person to attack.”

Sam Stalder ’17 mentioned that Chow’s height gives her an added advantage, especially with her new style of play.

“For me, I can’t go to the net right away because they’ll lob it right over me,” the 5’2” sophomore said. “But she’s much taller and stronger and very intimidating at the net”.

“She’s very consistent,” Giffenig added. “But she also hits it hard enough to put it away.”
Chow is the only senior on the roster, and with junior captain Tiffany Cheng abroad this fall, she has been responsible for leading the particularly young team to its hot start.

“[Junior Tiffany Cheng] is gone so all I’ve got is a bunch of freshman and sophomores,” Holbach said. “They call her Mama Chow.”