ATHENS, Ga. – Attempting to become the third Golden Bear to capture the NCAA Singles Championship, California’s Lynn Chi fell to Virginia’s Danielle Collins, 6-2, 7-5, in Monday's final at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Chi, ranked 24th, held a 5-3 second-set lead over the Cavalier, but the 32nd-ranked Collins rebounded to win the first national singles title for her school.
The sophomore Bear ended the season with a 38-11 record, while Collins ended with a 36-10 record. Chi’s run to the NCAA singles final also capped the overall season for Cal.
“[Collins] played really well at the end,” Chi said. “She hit some really nice shots. I made a few errors. I had that one game, I think, where I hit four balls in the tape or around the tape area. To make it to the finals for me was just unbelievable. I never expected that or anything near that. I’ve learned so much this tournament. I’m just going to use it for next year.”
“It’s so exciting,” Cal head coach Amanda Augustus said. “It was a great accomplishment for Lynn and really showcased all her dedication and hard work this season. She shares this tournament run with her teammates and all of us coaches. It’s pretty exciting to have our first player in the final in three years. We’ll definitely celebrate this great run. Lynn represents the program so well on the court, off the court and in the classroom. She’s only a sophomore, and this shows what she’s really capable of. I think she really enjoyed her experience here at the tournament.”
Collins was a familiar face to Chi, as both hail from the state of Florida and both played on at least one juniors team together. Both sophomores and both 5-9 – and neither the No. 1 singles player for her respective team – Chi and Collins were looking to make history for their programs.
“We’re pretty good friends,” Chi said. “We get along pretty well, and it’s cool to play her in the finals. When we were younger we never thought that would be possible. It was a great experience to be here and play against her.”
After Collins won the first set, Chi took leads of 3-1 and 5-3 in the second, as the second-year Bear hoped to force a third set. Chi had played in three, three-set matches in the singles tournament to that point and played in four three setters total, including one in the NCAA team tournament. The Bear had taken both of her previous opponents to three sets, beating top-ranked and top-seeded Jamie Loeb of North Carolina, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the quarterfinals and topping Georgia State’s 22nd-ranked Abigail Tere-Apisah, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), in the semifinals.
The hard-hitting Collins put together a strong run to take a 6-5 lead. Chi then served with a chance to force a tiebreaker, but Collins ultimately prevailed.
“Lynn did a great job,” Augustus said. “All the game were close, the points were close and both were competing their brains out. Lynn didn’t serve as well today as she would’ve liked, and Danielle served quite well. Lynn eased ahead a little in the second set, but Danielle really steadied herself, and at end of second set Danielle really went for her shot. She was a little more aggressive when she needed to be. But it was well fought on both sides.
“This is so great for our program and speaks to the consistency of what we do. It’s great, and we’re really, really proud of Lynn.”
Besides Augustus, Cal associate head coach Cordell Ho, junior teammate Zsofi Susanyi and trainer Lauren Forsyth, Chi’s parents, Lucy and Jason Chi, were members of the Cal contingent on Monday in Athens.
“And there were actually a couple of other Cal fans out to watch the match,” Chi added.” It was awesome that my parents could come up and watch. It was a great experience for all of us.”
NCAA Singles Championship
May 26, 2014, in Athens, Georgia
University of Georgia – Dan Magill Tennis Complex (Feild Courts)
No. 32 Danielle Collins (Virginia) def. No. 24 Lynn Chi (Cal) – 6-2, 7-5