Two seniors draw team together
While Worley tacks on wins, Li guides players as asst. coach
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- On the court or off, Williams’s seniors Nancy Worley and Veranika Li lead the five-time defending NCAA Division III national championship team.
Worley, a native of New Orleans who is majoring in English at Williams, is playing doubles in the NCAA tournament for the first time. On Monday morning she teamed up with sophomore Monica Pastor to defeat Elaine Baik and Abby Clark of Johns Hopkins 8-3 in quarterfinal action at Western Michigan. Worley's singles match against Sydney Lehman went unfinished as Williams cruised into Tuesday's semifinals with a 5-1 victory against Johns Hopkins.
Li, a resident of Bayside, N.Y. who is majoring in political science and Russian, is not in the Williams lineup for the NCAA DIII championships, but is serving as an assistant to head coach Alison Swain.
“They are fantastic leaders and team-oriented people, which is important in an individual sport like tennis,” Swain said. “They have been dedicated to the program for the last four years and I am excited to see them lead this team through another great season.”
Three times in her career Worley has won clinching matches 5-4 in Williams’ NCAA tournament victories. As a freshman, she clinched Round of 16 and semifinals wins and, as a sophomore, her final victory gave the Ephs the national championship.
“I love doubles,” Worley said. “I have always wanted to play doubles. This team very much plays for each other, so doubles is nice because it has that team-ness built into it. This is a close-knit team and we're good friends off the court and winning another national championship would be great, but our focus in playing as a team. That is our No. 1 goal.”
Worley plans to attend Tulane next year in pursuit of a Masters in science, as her eventual goal is to attend medical school. “Two of our players from last year are here to cheer us on,” Worley said. “That's a testament to how close this team is.”
Kristin Alotta and Caroline Capute, who graduated from Williams a year ago, made the trip to Kalamazoo, Mich. for the championships.
“We have a young and very talented team this year with some very good freshmen and sophomores, so my role as a coach has been cool, too,” Li said. “It has been good to see the core value of playing for each other. We talk before every match about it taking all 10 members of the team – six on the court and those of us off – to win a match. I think that what I am doing is just as important to the team as playing.”
Williams is scheduled to face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is Tuesday morning's semifinals, as CMS beat Chicago 5-1 on Monday morning. Amherst and Emory will clash in the other semifinal Tuesday, as Amherst beat Washington (Mo.) 5-1 in Monday's quarterfinals and Emory edged Middlebury 5-2.