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After seeing tremendous success playing tennis for North Haven, Emily Migliorini made her mark on the college circuit with an excellent four-year career at Connecticut College in New London. (Photo courtesy of Bob Migliorini )
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Emily Migliorini put together a spectacular career as a tennis player at North Haven High School. Emily finished with a record of 79-12, was named the Southern Connecticut Conference Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons, and was also a three-time All-SCC and All-State honoree. After graduating in 2015, Emily decided to take her game to the women’s tennis team at Connecticut College, where she recently completed another successful tenure on the courts.
Emily played both singles and doubles for Conn College, a Division III school in New London. Emily held down the No. 2 singles position during her first three seasons, before earning her promotion to No. 1 singles this year. Emily posted a dual-match singles record of 11-8 while leading the Camels as one of their senior captains. She finished her college run with a record of 39-30 for dual-match singles play, along with 23 wins in doubles.
“Playing tennis for this team has been the greatest experience. There’s no better feeling than the friendships I’ve made and the accomplishments that my team and I have had over these four years,” Emily says. “I’ve learned a lot about myself by being a leader for the team, and I wouldn’t have wanted this experience any other way.”
Emily comes from a family with a rich tradition in tennis. Emily’s older sister Alyssa had a decorated career at North Haven, and her younger sister Julia is currently the No. 1 singles player for the Indians, who are coached by their father Bob Migliorini. Emily played No. 2 singles for North Haven as a freshman and then competed out of top spot the next three years.
In addition to her three All-Conference and All-State selections, Emily made the New Haven Register All-Area Team all four years, was named the Register’s All-Area Most Valuable Player in her last two seasons, and also won the Indians’ MVP Award three times.
On the heels of these achievements, Emily joined the team at Connecticut College, which competes in one of the nation’s most challenging Division III leagues: the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Unlike high school, collegiate tennis players often play both singles and doubles in the same match, and that was challenging for Emily, who had no previous competitive doubles experience. However, Emily quickly adjusted to the doubles game and used what she learned to her advantage when it came time to fly solo on the singles court.
“That was a challenge, especially because I’m such a baseline player and, in doubles, your net game is so important. I feel like I’ve definitely improved in terms of being aggressive and have become more willing to come up to the net whenever I see a short ball in my singles matches,” says Emily. “I loved playing both singles and doubles and being able to help the team as much as possible.”
Emily, who’s double-majoring in biology and human development, was surprised that she earned the No. 2 singles position in her freshman year. Still, she fared well from the start by beating the opponents she was expected to defeat, while also winning some matches in which she was the underdog. Emily gradually progressed with each season, then raised her game to the next level when she got bumped up to No. 1 singles this spring.
In one of the last matches of her junior year, Emily won a three-set battle that snapped a 4-4 tie and gave the Camels a 5-4 victory versus their biggest rival, Trinity College. It was Senior Day, and Emily felt proud that she came through for the seniors with their family and friends in attendance.
“It was surreal. In that atmosphere, having the support from all the fans and everyone who was cheering and yelling made me step up and want to win for my team and the seniors,” Emily says. “Whenever a match is 4-4, it’s so exciting, especially because we don’t see a lot of those matches. I wanted to be the last one on the court fighting for my team, and I’ve had that mentality ever since.”
Emily took that mindset into a senior season in which she had a lot of pressure on her shoulders as Conn College’s top singles player. However, the pressure didn’t faze Emily, who turned in an excellent campaign that saw her notch a slew of notable victories. One of Emily’s biggest wins came when she stormed back from a 5-2 deficit to prevail 7-5 in the third set of the decisive match that propelled the Camels to a 5-4 victory over Division II Merrimack College.
Two weeks later, Conn College went up against Tufts University, which was ranked No. 8 in the country. Emily earned the Camels’ lone win on the day by rallying for a 0-6, 6-3, 10-5 victory versus Patricia Obeid, who Emily says is “the best player I’ve ever beaten.”
“It meant a lot to me. I just hope I inspired my teammates to show them that you can’t stop until the last point, because you can always come back,” says Emily, who made the NESCAC All-Academic and All-Sportsmanship teams. “I think I played the best tennis I’ve ever played this year, and I’ve never felt more confident on the court. I pulled off some great victories that I will always remember. Winning those close matches are some of my biggest accomplishments.”
Emily’s endurance on the court proved huge in helping her win those grueling three-set duels. Emily has a knack for wearing down opponents by returning everything they offer, eventually forcing them to make that critical mistake.
Head Coach Chris O’Brien says that Emily’s gritty performance in matches stems from the business-like approach she brings to practice on a day-in, day-out basis.
“When Emily comes to practice, she gives 100 percent every day. She never takes a day off. She’s always giving 100 percent, and that carries over to her matches,” O’Brien says. “Emily is a fighter who has great mental toughness. Her composure really is unbelievable. You watch her play, and you don’t even know if things are going good or bad, because she’s always super composed on the court.”
Emily knew it was important for her to maintain an even-keel, especially since she was setting an example for her teammates as a captain. Emily led the Camels with fellow senior captain Brinley Bartlett, who was also her doubles partner.
“Being a captain for this team is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had. Everything I’ve worked for came down to this position,” Emily says. “Coach always told me that you play the way you practice, so I always take practices seriously. When you’re focused in practice, it translates to your matches.”
Although Emily has played her last match in college, she plans to continue playing tennis for the rest of her life, while also diving deeper into another sport. Emily has competed in a pair of half-marathons during the past two years, and she’s now working toward a full marathon. Ultimately, Emily’s goal is to run in one of the biggest races in the world.
“I want to run the Boston Marathon,” Emily says. “That’s my dream.”
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