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Rakocevic ’20 impresses at ITA regional meet

Rakocevic overcame 7th and 9th seeded opponents en route to quarterfinals

Lara Rakocevic ’20 made it to the quarter finals of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) regional meet held at MIT this past weekend. Not only was she the Engineer’s top performer in singles, she was also the only player from the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) to reach the final eight.

Fourth seed and captain Dora Tzeng ’18 made it to the round of 16 in singles while Rakocevic teamed up with Kelly Zhu ’19 to lead MIT with a top-16 finish in doubles.

Looking back on her incredible performance, Rakocevic said, “I was proud of myself for making it as far as I did. I am a little bit bummed that I did not play better in the quarterfinals as I was a little bit tired and intimidated.”

En route to the quarter final, Rakocevic beat 9th seed Lily Bondy of Middlebury (7-6, 1-6, 13-11) and 7th seed Mina Karamercan of Tufts University (6-3, 7-5) before succumbing to top-seed Eudice Chong of Wesleyan University.

A four-time Oregon state champion, Rakocevic had come into the meet having won all five of her singles games for MIT. If her performance at the ITA regionals is any indication, the Engineers have added a player of exceptional ability to an already talented roster.

In true spirit of MIT, Rakocevic has already identified areas to work on in her game and recognizes the kind of mentality needed to face a higher ranked player:

“She is just a girl with a ponytail. She will also mess up. She will also get nervous. Just because she is higher in the rankings doesn’t mean I should give her points or games for free. She still has to earn everything just I like do,” Rakocevic said.  

When asked how challenging it has been to balance academic life at MIT with the rigors of playing varsity tennis, Rakocevic remarked, “I am really enjoying it. [Varsity tennis] gives me a lot of structure and makes me prioritize my time so I always know [that] I have classes at a certain period of the day and then I have to study and then I have practice. That really helps me be efficient and focus on what I have to do.”