CMS Women's Tennis Sends Two Doubles Teams on to Tomorrow's National Semifinals

Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan celebrate their three-set win in the NCAA Doubles Quarterfinals
Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan celebrate their three-set win in the NCAA Doubles Quarterfinals

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis will have half of the final four in the NCAA Division III Doubles Championships tomorrow, as Catherine Allen and Caroline Cox earned a 6-1, 6-3 win in its quarterfinal on Saturday, while Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan rallied for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 win to move on to the semis as well.

The two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, and could potentially face each other for the national championship, if both can win their semifinal tomorrow. It will actually be a CMS-Middlebury showdown, as the Panthers also put two doubles teams in the semis. Tan and Bahsoun will face Heather Boehm and Ann Martin Skelly of Middlebury, who advanced with a straight set (6-2, 7-5) win over Denison, while Allen and Tan will face the Panther duo of Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger, who took down Emory's No. 1 team in three sets (2-6, 6-3, 6-4)

Allen also advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Singles competition on Saturday, winning her quarterfinal match in the morning over Marjorie Antohi of Chicago 7-6, 6-3. The first-set tiebreaker was knotted at 5-5, before Allen took the last two points for a 7-5 win, putting an overhead in the corner for 6-5 and then hitting a winner down the line for the first-set win. The second set was then knotted at 3-3, before Allen won the next three games in a row to finish off the win. 

Even though it was a straight set victory, the match was still a lengthy battle, with the first set taking well over an hour due to multiple deuces. Allen had to come back two hours later for the semifinals against Venia Yeung of Wesleyan (who also had a long battle in the quarters to defeat Caroline Casper of Pomona-Pitzer 7-5, 7-5). The semifinal match was interrupted by rain three times in the first set, and Yeung was able to come out strong after each delay and take a 6-2 first-set win.

Allen came back with a break to start the second set, but Yeung wouldn't let her sustain any momentum, and went on to a 6-2, 6-2 win to advance to tomorrow's finals. The defeat was only the third that she has suffered this season in singles, with the first two both coming to Casper, one in the ITA West Regional finals in the fall, and one in the regular season head-to-head match-up, which CMS won 7-2. Allen avenged those losses with a win over Casper in the SCIAC Championship, and was leading 6-0, 5-6 in the NCAA Regional Finals when the match was left unfinished. 

Allen's loss left the two doubles teams as the only Athenas left in the tournament, and Tan and Bahsoun started with the tall task of facing Wesleyan's No. 1 doubles team of sisters Kristina Yu and Victoria Yu. Tan and Bahsoun weren't even part of the first 16-team field when the NCAA made its announcement, but they got an invitation as an alternate when one of the other teams withdrew, while Yu and Yu came in as the tournament's No. 4 seed and earned an 8-6 win over Allen and Cox in the national championship match on Wednesday, only the second Division III loss that the Athena No. 1 duo has suffered all season.

The Yu sisters surged out to a 3-0 lead in the early going, but Tan and Bahsoun took the opening punch and punced right back, winning five games in a row for a 5-3 lead. However, the Cardinal duo fought off two set points before battling back to win the next four games and take a 7-5 first-set win. 

Tan and Bahsoun refused to let the narrow loss affect them in the second set, though, as they got an early break for a 2-1 lead. The Athena duo kept earning holds to maintain the one-break advantage, and Tan was able to hold serve at 40-30, with Bahsoun putting a low volley down that Wesleyan hit over the baseline, for a 6-4 win to force the match to a third set.  

Unlike their Wesleyan counterparts, the Athenas carried their momentum over to the next set, breaking on the first game for a 1-0 lead. From there, Tan and Bahsoun were able to prevent Wesleyan from ever getting their rhythm back, closing out with a 6-0 third-set win to go through to tomorrow's semifinals after originally not even being in the field. 

Allen and Cox had less drama in their match, but did need to respond to a second-set challenge from Kenyon's team. After the Athenas picked up the first set 6-1 and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second, Kenyon battled back with the next three games to level the second set at 3-3. The top-seeded Athena duo withstood the run, though, and came right back with the final three games to close out the 6-1, 6-3 win and earn its ticket to Sunday's semifinals.   

Tomorrow will represent the final day of athletic competition for CMS this academic year, as the Athenas will try to win a national title from one of its two doubles teams to end the 2018-19 season on a high note.  The semifinals are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. (schedule moved up due to weather), with the finals taking place afterward.