Smukler Caps Season as NCAA DIII Singles Semifinalist

Smukler Caps Season as NCAA DIII Singles Semifinalist

Highlights from Camille's semifinals match against Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico

KALAMZOO, Michigan -- Amherst College junior Camille Smukler reached the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Division 3 Women's Tennis Singles Tournament before bowing out one game shy of the national championship on Saturday afternoon at Stowe Stadium.

Smukler suffered a 7-5, 6-0 defeat to Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory College, the #1 ranked player in the country, to end her run in the singles championships with a 3-1 record. It is the first time Smukler has won multiple games at this tournament, which she has now been invited to participate in for the third straight season.

After Smukler took a 1-0 lead, Gonzalez-Rico, who won a three-set match against Lauren O'Malley (John Carroll) earlier in the day, won three straight games to go ahead 3-1. Smukler held and then broke for three-all and won the next two to lead 5-3 before her opponent broke back to stay in the set.

In the tenth game, Smukler had set point but couldn't complete the victory and eventually fell 7-5.

The second set saw Gonzalez-Rico take a quick 2-0 lead, then outlast Smukler in a lengthy third game where each player had multiple advantages. With the 3-0 lead in hand, Gonzalez-Rico was on her way to a 6-0 second set victory, earning her a spot in the championship game on Sunday.

The Villanova, Pa. became the first Amherst women's tennis player to reach the semifinals of the individual tournament since 2014, when Jordan Brewer made her second straight Final Four and ended as the national runner-up.  

"It was my goal to make it this far and hopefuly even farther," said Smukler after her win in the quarterfinals. "I'm just really excited to be here and I'm not even that nervous because I have nothing to lose. I'm unseeded in the tourney and I'm just going to go out and play my hardest."


Highlights of Camille's 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinals win over Victoria Yu

Smukler got to the semifinals with a straight-set victory (6-3, 6-1) over Wesleyan's Victoria Yu on Saturday morning.

Things started off on the right foot, as Smukler broke twice in the first three games and took a 3-0 lead on Yu before the Wesleyan senior was able to get on the board. 

When asked if she thought she would be able to breeze through the first set so quickly, Smuker said no: "I definitely thought I could win the match but I thought it would be closer. I've seen her play and I know she is a figher. I was just coming on really strong and I think it was to my benefit that we haven't played before because she didn't know what to expect from me."

In the second, Smukler fell behind 2-0 but then broke back to get the players back on serve with Amherst ahead 3-2. Another quick break made it 4-2 Amherst, and though Yu saved a match point and won to make it 4-3, Smukler was not to be stopped. 

"I really wanted to win in two sets and not be tired for the semifinals if I could make it there. I just needed to refocus and get back to doing what I was doing in the first set, which was giving more margins on my shots," said Smukler. "I started losing points when I was going for the line and I was missing on aggressive shots. So I got back to just hitting one more shot and being more patient and staying in points with her."