NEWPORT, R.I. – What does it take to build a dynasty?
There’s perhaps no better person to ask than Emory women’s tennis head coach Amy Bryant.
In Bryant’s 19 seasons as head coach at her alma mater (where as a player, she helped guide the Eagles to the 1996 NCAA Division III National Championship), Bryant has amassed a 382-96 record (.803 winning percentage), won six NCAA Division III National Championships and reached the national championship match on 13 different occasions.
In collegiate athletics, change is a part of the four-year cycle. Despite wearing the same uniform, no two teams by comparison will have looked, felt, played or acted the same.
Bryant has been the one constant at Emory, and she points to a specific reason as to why the Eagles are consistently in the hunt for conference, ITA (they’ve won the ITA Division III National Women’s Team Indoor Championship the past two seasons) and NCAA championships.
“We’re really a family and that’s what you feel when you come and visit with our team,” said Bryant on Saturday during day two of competition at the 2018 Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational, held on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. “It’s not just the pieces that are at Emory at any particular moment; it’s the pieces that have left Emory and the pieces that are interested in Emory, and it’s the parents. So, we’re one big family and having that surrounding energy and that kind of environment is what makes Emory special and able to achieve greatness year after year.”
One of Bryant’s current players, sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico, echoed her coach’s sentiments about the Emory women’s tennis culture.
“As players, we’re a very tight group and always together,” said Gonzalez-Rico after her 6-1, 6-1 victory over Georgia Wright of Washington & Lee in the semifinals of the Helena Sukova Flight. Gonzlaez-Rico will face teammate Daniela Lopez in Sunday’s final. “That makes us different from other teams.”
For Bryant, the opportunity to bring her team to the International Tennis Hall of Fame was one she wasn’t going to pass by.
“This has been a very eye-opening experience. None of us have ever been here before,” said Bryant. “Just feeling like you are part of something that’s so much bigger than yourself. We are a part of the international game of tennis and we are struck with that realization. It’s been phenomenal and a great way to start our season. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Bryant also was excited about the opportunity for Division III tennis to be placed in the national spotlight.
“We’re doing a great job in Division III, bringing in great players and the level of integrity in Division III is very high, so I feel like this is perfect place for us to showcase our talent,” said Bryant.
The 2018 Hall of Fame ITA Grass Court Invitational runs through Sunday, September 16, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Matches take place on the historic Bill Talbert Stadium Court and on the additional grass courts at the Hall of Fame. For more information, visit the event page and be sure to follow the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #ITAGrassCourt.