Zargham Advances to Semifinals at USTA/ITA Central Regional Championship; Spartan Women Wrap Up Competitive Weekend

Freshman Sara Zargham went 5-1 and reached the semifinals at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship. (photo courtesy of Chris Mitchell)
Freshman Sara Zargham went 5-1 and reached the semifinals at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship. (photo courtesy of Chris Mitchell)

ST. LOUIS – Case Western Reserve University women's tennis freshman Sara Zargham (Torrance, Calif./California Academy of Math and Science) advanced to the Flight A singles semifinals during the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region Championship on Sunday, October 30.

The main draw consisted of 127 female student-athletes from around the region. The event was hosted by fellow University Athletic Association institution Washington University-St. Louis from Friday, September 28 to Monday, October 1 at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center.

This weekend marks the second-straight USTA/ITA Central Region tournament where a Spartan woman reached at least the semifinals of the main singles draw. Senior Erika Lim advanced to the finals in 2011, marking the best finish in program history.

"Sara (Zargham) made her presence felt in the region this weekend," said fifth-year Head Coach Todd Wojtkowski. "To go out and reach the semis as a freshman is an incredible accomplishment, but considering that she beat the No. 1 seed, it is even more impressive."

Zargham defeated Taryn Strombeck from Ohio Northern University (6-0, 6-3) and Sruthi Ramaswami from the University of Chicago (6-2, 6-2) during the opening two rounds. Zargham's next two opponents were seeded players, and she worked her way to three-set victories versus No. 11 seed Julie Stroyne from Otterbein University (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) and No. 1 overall seed Maggie MacPhail from DePauw University (Ind.) by scores of 7-5, 5-7, 7-5. In the quarterfinals, Zargham breezed past Chicago's Maggie Schumann (6-2, 6-2) before falling in the semis to Megan Tang from Chicago (6-0, 6-0).

For the fall, Zargham has now posted a singles record of 8-1.

Also making it through to the round of 16 in the A draw with a 4-1 mark was Zargham's classmate Surya Khadilkar (Broadview Heights, Ohio/Hawken School). Khadilkar, seeded 17th, edged past Elizabeth Young from DePauw (6-4, 7-6) then followed with a 6-1, 6-1 victory versus Nicole Darga from Elmhurst College (Ill.). In her next match, Khadilkar lost the opening set versus Melika Celebic from Lake Forest University (Ill.) by a 6-4 count, but rebounded to take the next sets two easily, 6-2 and 6-1. In the round of 16, Khadilkar again went three sets but this time fell to Schumann by a final tally of 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

In doubles action, Zargham and senior Kathleen Evers (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) were seeded No. 9 out of 64 tandems in the main draw and posted a 3-1 mark. The duo won its opening two matches by 8-1 scores and were victorious in the round of 16, 8-3. In the quarterfinals, the tandem ran into Kaitlin Pickrel and Julie Wittwer of DePauw. The Tiger tandem came out on top, 8-2.

Competing in the doubles main draw, the Spartan duos of sophomores Marianne Bonanno (Clayton, Ohio/Northmont) and Alexandra Lim (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton Union) along with freshman Taylor Sweeney (Fort Gratiot, Mich./Port Huron Northern) and Khadilkar each won their opening two matches before falling in the round of 16.

"Each year we continue to qualify more and more players for the later rounds," said Wojtkowski. "Much like the men last weekend, I'm hopeful that this type of performance re-affirms to our players that we are doing things the right way and need to keep pushing the envelope."

The Spartans next compete in their lone dual matches of the fall at home on Friday, October 5. Case is scheduled to take on local-rival John Carroll University at 12:00 p.m. followed by a match with the University of Mount Union at 3:30 p.m.