Waves tennis pair captures ITA fall national title

Janice Tjen (left) and Savannah Broadus pose with their trophies after winning the ITA National Fall Doubles Championship in San Diego earlier this month. Photo Courtesy of ITA

Even after ending the 2022 spring season as one of the best doubles tandems in the country, Pepperdine Waves women’s tennis players Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen are still learning new things about each other. 

The two 20-year-olds roomed together as the Waves traveled to tennis tournaments in San Francisco and San Diego during the late September to early November fall season, so they spent a lot of time talking. 

Broadus, a sophomore, said one thing she and Tjen, a junior, bonded over was their disdain for being alone in large crowds.

“When we go to tournaments — not collegiate tournaments — we walk around on our own,” she said. “It’s a little nervous because you don’t know a lot of people. When you have someone that you know there with you, it’s so much better. You learn a lot about a person when you spend weeks together in a room.”

“I feel the exact same way,” Tjen added. 

Broadus and Tjen’s relationship on the tennis court is growing closer and better also. They proved it earlier this month by winning the doubles title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Fall Championships at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. 

Broadus and Tjen defeated North Carolina’s Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig 6-2, 7-6 (2) on the last day of Nov. 2-6 championships. The Waves twosome entered the event as the top seed and claimed the first national fall doubles championship in Pepperdine history. 

Tjen said it was awesome and motivating to win the tournament. 

“I feel really happy, amazing, and motivated to strive for more,” she said. 

Broadus said the big win shows that she and Tjen’s hard training has paid off but noted that they see the tournament title as a stepping stone to improving. 

“We don’t see college tennis as our end,” she said. “We want to play professional. This is a way for us to get better and better and learn. The wins that we do get show us we are going in the right direction.” 

The Pepperdine tandem was only pushed to a third set once in their five matches in San Diego.

The duo defeated Columbia’s Shivani Amineni and Winta Tewolde 6-1, 6-2 in the round of 32 and then beat Portland’s Sally Pethybridge and Iva Zelic 6-3, 6-0 in the round of 16. Tjen and Broadus downed Duke’s Chloe Beck and Cameron Morra 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and beat Michigan’s Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller 6-1, 2-6 [10-7] in the semifinals to advance to the championship match. 

Tjen and Broadus focused on one match at a time instead of winning the championship, Broadus said. 

“We made it to the finals and just enjoyed the moment and had fun,” she said.

The two were each awarded clear, bowl-shaped trophies after winning the ITA spectacle. The players garnered a championship trophy at the beginning of the fall season when they won the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco.

Broadus and Tjen finished the fall season with a 13-1 record. They were finalists at the ITA Southwest Regional in San Diego in October. The pair ended the fall season as the fourth-ranked doubles team in the ITA rankings. The North Carolina pair of Crawley and Tanguilig, who Broadus and Tjen defeated to win the ITA fall title, are first. 

Broadus and Tjen’ success, according to themselves, is due to their training and how their games complement each other. They are both skilled servers who also love volleying and playing close to the net. Additionally, neither can be accused of have a shaky forehand swing. 

Tjen said she and Broadus clear up any miscues on the court after each match. 

“We work a little bit here or there and polish things up,” she said. “We do that then play well together. Having the connection we have on the court feels special.”

However, even though they spend a lot of time together — they see each other at breakfast, have 8 a.m. classes in the same building on campus, and train together — both players said they can improve their communication on the court. 

“If a lob goes up and we call out ‘Mine!’ or ‘Yours!’ and are confident with it and not have to guess who is going to get it that will make us better,” Broadus said. “We are working on communicating and making each other’s presence known to the other.”

Pepperdine head coach Per Nilsson said Broadus and Tjen improve weekly. 

“Sav and JT have been putting in the work and it’s showing,” he said. 

Broadus advanced to the round of 16 in the championships singles bracket. In October, she won the ITA Southwest Regional singles championship. Broadus is ranked 21st in the singles rankings and completed the fall season with a 10-2 record. 

Tjen is rated 12th in the ITA singles. She won the Battle of the Bay singles championship and finished the fall with a 9-1 record.

Tjen and Broadus advanced to the NCAA Doubles Championship semifinals last May and were named All-Americans. 

The Waves are on a break right now and will resume their season in January. 

Broadus is ready to keep improving she and Tjen’s play on the court in the spring season.

“We are going to enjoy the ride,” she said. 

Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen on the tennis court Photo from ITA
Pepperdine doubles partners Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen celebrate on the tennis court after winning point. Photo Courtesy of ITA.