Schnur, Hahn Share Another Meaningful Moment
By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer
Max Schnur and Emily Hahn have more than a few things in common.
They grew up during their formative years across the street from each other in a far West End Richmond neighborhood. They developed into excellent tennis players and received admittance to prestigious Ivy League colleges, where they are members of their respective teams.
Now you can add one more shared event in their lives – Ivy League champions.
On April 20, Schnur played a role in leading Columbia to a 4-0 victory over Princeton that clinched the Ivy title for the men’s team. Columbia finished the regular season with a 7-0 record in conference play for the first time since 2000.
That same Easter Sunday, Hahn helped Princeton defeat Columbia 6-1 to complete a 7-0 season in league play for the Tigers and give them the women’s Ivy championship. It marked the first Ivy title for Princeton since 2010.
Since the Ivy League doesn’t hold a post-season tournament, the regular-season crown serves as the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Columbia (20-1), which is ranked 18th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and has won 18 consecutive matches, will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to face East Tennessee State (14-8) in the opening round of the men’s Division I championships on May 9.
Meanwhile, Princeton (18-5), which is ranked 50th and the winner of 10 straight, will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to meet Arizona State (18-7) in the women’s first round on May 9.
Four teams compete at these regional sites, with the survivors advancing to the Sweet 16 that starts on May 15 at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Columbia had finished runner-up to Harvard the past two years – Schnur’s first two years there – but this season was exceptional. Their only loss came at Georgia 4-2, when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 in the country.
“We have four people in my class in the starting lineup,” said Schnur, who is majoring in political science with a minor in business management. “So I think now, we’re an older and more experienced team. Plus we got a lot stronger in our doubles lineup.”
Schnur and his classmate, Ashok Narayana, are Columbia’s No. 1 doubles team and ranked 11th in the latest ITA poll.
“Overall, our team matured and we got a little bit hungrier after losing and being second two years in a row. We sort of developed this hunger and this toughness, and we weren’t going to let anyone take anything from us.”
Schnur has moved around the singles lineup this season, playing anywhere from No. 2 through No. 5, compiling a 12-3 record.
“I started off pretty solidly at four, played a little bit at five and then at the end of the year, I was playing two and three,” said the junior, who was in the No. 3 spot in the clinching match against Princeton.
“Part [of moving up in the lineup] is just sticking with and doing the right stuff, the little things, every day. As the season went along, and I had a few good wins over spring break, I just started to be very confident in my game.
“As well as just playing next to my teammates and knowing those guys had worked so hard, and we’re all so tough that none of us was going to give in. That was really helpful to me.”
In the match against Princeton, Schnur and Narayana secured the doubles point with an 8-5 victory at No. 1. Schnur had not finished his singles when the Lions clinched by winning three other singles matches.
Schnur and Narayana, who teamed to capture the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships last fall, have qualified for the doubles portion of the NCAA tournament, which begins after the team competition. They are 11-2 this spring.
“We’re really excited for that opportunity,” said Schnur. “We missed out the last few years, and this year, it’s a very strong field. We’ve had enough good results that we really feel like we can beat any team, and we have a legitimate shot at this thing.”
The Princeton women started slowly, going 8-5 through their first 13 matches before going on their 10-match roll. A 4-3 win over Florida International to end a spring-break trip to Florida lit the fuse before a 4-3 squeaker over three-time defending champion Yale on April 4 really set the tone.
Like Schnur, Hahn has moved around the singles lineup, enjoying the most success at No. 2, where she is 3-1. The sophomore has also played at Nos. 3 and 4 for the Tigers. Her overall singles record is 8-10 for the season. In the last match, Hahn played No. 3.
In other news of local players, former Steward School standout Mary Taylor Tepper won both her singles (No. 4) and doubles (No. 2) matches to help Sewanee defeat Berry 8-1 in the final of the Southern Athletic Association women’s tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Sewanee (20-3) is ranked No. 19 in Division III and bound for the NCAA tournament. This is Tepper’s final year at Sewanee.
Led by Tyler Carey (Cosby) at No. 1 singles and Evan Charles (Deep Run) at No. 4, No. 16 Mary Washington captured its 15th straight Capital Athletic Conference men’s tournament title with a 7-2 triumph over Salisbury. UMW is 20-5 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore Michael Holt (Mills Godwin) won his doubles match as No. 24 Washington and Lee’s men’s team claimed its fifth straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship with a 5-0 victory over Virginia Wesleyan in Amherst.
The Generals are 17-4 heading into the NCAA tournament, which begins on May 9.
Freshman Kelly Stewart (Grove Christian School) went 15-2 – mostly at No. 3 singles – and 15-4 at No. 3 doubles to help Flagler (Fla.) College to a 16-4 record this season. The Division II school is ranked 24th in the latest women’s ITA poll and qualified for the NCAAs.
Liam Sullivan (Trinity) was named to the All-Southern Conference freshman team after compiling a 6-2 record in league play (9-7 overall) at No. 5 singles for the Samford (Ala.) Bulldogs, who finished with an 8-10 record.