Defending National Champion CMS Women's Tennis Ranked No. 1 in ITA Preseason Poll

Defending National Champion CMS Women's Tennis Ranked No. 1 in ITA Preseason Poll

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The defending national champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis team earned the No. 1 spot in the nation in the Division III preseason poll from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the organization announced on Thursday.

The Athenas captured the program's first-ever NCAA title with a win over Emory last May at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center and held down the No. 1 ranking in the first poll of the 2018-19 season. Emory was picked second, followed by five straight schools from the NESCAC, No. 3 Amherst, No. 4 Williams, No. 5 Middlebury, No. 6 Wesleyan and No. 7 Tufts. Pomona-Pitzer held down the No. 8 spot, followed by MIT and Chicago ranked No. 9 and No. 10. 

CMS got off to a strong start in the fall in its first steps towards defending its title, with the doubles team of junior Catherine Allen and sophomore Caroline Cox winning the ITA National doubles championship. Allen and Cox were ranked No. 1 in the first national doubles ranking, which came out in November.  

The Athenas will have to replace two of the top singles players from its line-up a year ago, as Kyla Scott and Lindsay Brown both graduated. However, Allen and Cox figure to be mainstays in this year's line-up, while junior Nicole Tan, who was studying abroad in the fall, will be one of the top players for the Athenas this year as well, after playing at No. 1 and No. 2 last year and earning first-team All-SCIAC honors in singles and All-America honors in doubles.

Sophomore Rebecca Berger, who earned the clinching win against Emory in last year's national championship match, is another key returner who is ranked No. 38 in the nation in singles heading into the new year. The team's lone senior, Jessie Cruz, will be a strong candidate to compete in both singles and doubles after earning a 14-1 record last season.

Juniors Madison Shea, Anastasia Bryan-Ajania, Juliette Martin and Lauren Yamagami give CMS a wealth of experienced depth heading into the new season, while the freshman class is also expected to provide an immediate impact. Sydney Lee had a strong fall at the ITA West Regionals and earned a spot in the first national singles rankings at No. 37 (one spot ahead of Berger). Sarah Bahsoun, Crystal Juan and Georgia Tuckerman also had strong showings, as the Class of 2022 gave an early indication that they will help keep the Athenas ranked among the nation's best for the next four years. 

The Athenas get back in action on Feb. 8, when they host Idaho State for a 4 p.m. match, before opening up SCIAC play on Feb. 9 with two road matches at Caltech and Occidental. CMS will then conclude the busy opening weekend to the spring season by hosting UC San Diego on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 12 p.m.