Leong, Allen to Face Each Other in ITA Cup National Finals, Then Play With Each Other in Doubles Finals

Justine Leong picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win in her ITA cup semifinal (photo courtesy of ITA)
Justine Leong picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win in her ITA cup semifinal (photo courtesy of ITA)

ROME, Ga. - Senior Catherine Allen and first-year Justine Leong picked up their third consecutive straight-set wins in the Oracle ITA Cup national semifinals on Friday morning, and will advance to meet each other for the second time in two weeks in the national finals on Saturday morning at the Rome Tennis Center.

Allen earned her semifinal win by a 6-3, 6-1 final over first-year Serim Jin of Wesleyan (Conn.), while Leong advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Lauren Park of the University of Chicago. 

After they play against each other in singles tomorrow morning, Allen and Leong will turn right around and join forces to compete with each other in the ITA Cup doubles championship after picking up quarterfinals and semifinals wins today. They opened up with a quick 6-1, 6-0 win over Andei Fukushige and Andrea Gu of Whitman in the quarters, and then outlasted Venia Yeung and Caitlyn Ferrante of Wesleyan 6-4, 6-4.  

Fiest Anna Kern and sophomore Crystal Juan were also in action in doubles, continuing their long run since starting as an unseeded team at the ITA West Regionals. After taking their opening round match yesterday to secure All-America distinction, they captured a three-set quarterfinal win over Zoe Kaffen and Mary Kaffen of Trinity (Texas) to reach the semifinals. Their run finally was stopped by Wesleyan's Kristina Yu and Sophie Henderson, who pulled out a 6-4, 6-2 decision to advance through to meet Allen and Leong in tomorrow's finals.  

In singles, Allen and Leong each had an easy time winning their first two matches yesterday to reach today's semifinal round. Allen dropped only seven games combined, on her way to a 6-2, 6-1 win in the Round of 16 and a 6-1, 6-3 win in the quarterfinals. Leong. meanwhile, dropped only six games in her two wins, taking her opener 6-0, 6-3 and her quarterfinal 6-1, 6-2. Both Allen and Leong won their first four matches in the ITA Regionals in straight sets as well, with Leong having no sets closer than 6-3. 

Allen and Leong met in the ITA West Region finals on Monday, Oct. 7, which earned both the right to advance to the national competition in Georgia. That match saw Leong take the first set 6-0 (the only set Allen has dropped so far this season), before Allen was forced to retire with a minor injury. 

The rematch will take place tomorrow, with the winner not only taking the ITA national title, but also qualifying for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships from Nov. 6-9 at the Newport Beach (Calif.) Tennis Club. That event will feature the national champions from Division II, Division III and NAIA in the same tournament as the nation's top Division I players.