CLAREMONT, Calif. – The cross-street rivals of No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and No. 5 Pomona-Pitzer met for the third time this season in the NCAA Third Round. The Athenas earned the 5-3 victory and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. This was the seventh year in a row that the CMS has beaten the Sagehens in the Regional Championship and today, the Athenas came back after trailing 2-1 after doubles to then win four singles matches.
Freshman Nicole Tan (CMC) eventually clinched the match from court two with the straight set victory. With the win, CMS will face Washington University, St. Louis in the NCAA Quarterfinals in Chattanooga, Tenn. On May 22.
The top-seeded doubles team in the Region, Lindsay Brown (CMC) and Nicole Tan (CMC) trailed 3-1 after the first four games to the second-seeded team of Emily Chen and Maryanne Zhao. Then, the comeback started. The CMS pair rattled off five games in a row to push the score to 6-3 in the Athenas' favor. Three games later, the Athenas recorded the 8-4 win for the first team point of the afternoon.
The CMS doubles teams on courts two and three got into holes early and were unable to dig their way back out. Kyla Scott (HMC) and Madison Shea (CMC) initially went down 3-0. Shea held serve in straight points to stave off the Hens, making the score 7-3 in PP's favor. The Athenas got one more game, but then Joy Kim and Grace Hruska got the best of them for the 8-4 loss at No. 3 doubles. Similarly to the Athenas on court No. 1, Katie Kuosman (CMC) and Catherine Allen (SC) took five games in a row after dropping the first six, but they were unable to continue the momentum to finish with a win.
Brown evened the team score with an efficient 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 5 singles and was quickly followed by an explosive victory by Allen at No. 2. As Allen got closer to victory, her cheers became louder and bolstered the other Athenas still on court.
While two of her teammates had already completed their matches, Tan was finally able to earn the 4-2 advantage in the first set after a game that went to the ninth deuce. She eventually took the first set 6-2, but only after more than an hour of play already.
The top-seeded singles player in the Region and SCIAC Athlete of the Year, Caroline Casper, was able to get the best of Scott at court No. 1 with the score of 6-2, 6-2. With that win for the Sagehens, the score knotted up again, this time at 3-3.
On court four, Jessie Cruz (CMC) had handily won the first set 6-2 but was tested by Arianna Chen in the second. Kuosman had also earned a seemingly easy first set win on court No. 6, but the second set saw Emily Chen uninterested in going down without a fight. Cruz out-hustled her opponent in the final set to grind out the 6-3 win at No. 4 singles and give CMS the much-needed fourth team point.
Kuosman against Emily Chen on No. 6 and Tan versus Zhao were the final singles matches of the afternoon. At first, it seemed Kuosman would earn the clinch for CMS, but the second set tiebreak had just begun when the crowd shifted its attention to court two. The otherwise quiet and reserved Tan exhibited more emotion each point during the final game. Ultimately, she won her match 6-2, 6-1 for the clinch of the match and to punch the Athenas' ticket to the NCAA Finals in Chattanooga next week.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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