KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis team swept doubles to take a big 3-0 lead and picked up singles wins from Catherine Allen and Sydney Lee at No. 1 and No. 4 as it took a 5-1 win over Carnegie Mellon in the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals on Monday afternoon.
With the win, CMS moves to 26-1 on the season and advances to take on Middlebury in the semifinals tomorrow at 11 a.m. (EDT), while Emory and Wesleyan will meet in the other semifinal.
The match was moved indoors at Kalamazoo College due to the outdoor courts still being unplayable in the morning due to rain on Sunday, which meant that only four singles matches could be held at once, putting even more of a premium on strong doubles play. The Athenas came through with a sweep, winning 8-3 at No. 1 with Allen and sophomore Caroline Cox defeating the same Carnegie Mellon team (Danna Taylor and Melissa Strome) it defeated in three sets to win the ITA Cup in the fall.
WTEN: First point in the books! CMS takes an 8-3 decision at 1 dubs - here are the final 3 points: Allen puts one in the corner for 30-30 and Cox wins last two at the net. pic.twitter.com/EhNrex5LPW— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) May 20, 2019
Moments later, Lee and junior Madison Shea improved to 7-0 since being paired together late in the season with an 8-3 win at No. 3 to stretch the Athena lead to 2-0. Freshman Sarah Bahsoun and junior Nicole Tan, meanwhile battled back from an early 4-1 deficit to take an 8-5 win and give CMS a sweep and a 3-0 lead.
The doubles sweep would prove to be huge to take some of the pressure off, as Carnegie Mellon battled the Athenas tightly in singles at the four courts, taking the first sets at No. 2 and No. 3, while Allen (6-4) and Lee (7-5) prevailed in tight battles at No. 1 and No. 4. Cox felt that the 3-0 lead was the key part of the match.
"It was super important, it really helped with the momentum," she said. "Especially with the NCAAs, everyone's so fired up, so to take that 3-0 lead really helped us hammer it down that we have the lead, we have the momentum, we have everything our way going into singles."
The Tartans' Jamie Vizelman was the first to get a singles win at No. 2 in straight sets to get her team within 3-1, and potentially give her team a chance to battle back and have it all come down to the late-starting No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches.
However, Allen was able to close out a hard-fought 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 1 to give CMS the 4-1 lead and bring the Athenas one win from the clinch. Lee jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set at No. 4 over Janabelle Wu, but Wu was able to win the next two games to close within 3-2. Lee buckled down, though, and closed out with the last three games, serving it out for a 7-5, 6-2 win to send CMS on to the semifinals.
WTEN: There's the clinch! Sydney Lee wins 7-5, 6-2 as serve return hits the tape. CMS defeats Carnegie Mellon 5-1 and will advance to tomorrow's semis at 11 am vs Amherst-Middlebury winner. pic.twitter.com/FRwP3LIk0d— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) May 20, 2019
After dropping the first set 7-5, sophomore Rebecca Berger was up 4-2 in the second set at No. 3 looking to get a split before her match was called when Lee earned the clincer. Bahsoun held an early 4-2 lead at No. 5 singles when the match was clinched, while junior Anastasia Bryan-Ajania had just gotten started and was down 2-1 after the first three games.
CMS will face Middlebury for the second time this season in tomorrow's semifinals, which will get underway at 11 a.m. Eastern time (8 a.m. Pacific). The first meeting on March 30 saw the Athenas control the match at home for an 8-1 win, although Middlebury was at the end of their long Spring Break trip, while the rematch will see both teams on more level footing travel-wise. The Athenas will be trying to return to the national championship match for the second year in a row after knocking off Williams in the semifinals last year before defeating Emory in the finals for their first-ever national title.