Make it Two for Kalamazoo! CMS Women's Tennis Joins Men's Tennis at Nationals with 5-1 Win over Pomona-Pitzer

Sydney Lee gets a celebratory hug after her clinching singles win (photo by Alicia Tsai)
Sydney Lee gets a celebratory hug after her clinching singles win (photo by Alicia Tsai)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis team won its NCAA Regional for the eighth year in a row as the Athenas took a 5-1 win over Pomona-Pitzer on Sunday afternoon at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center, advancing to the NCAA Division III Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 20-22.

With the win, the Athenas improve to 25-1 on the year, and will next meet Carnegie Mellon in the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals on Monday, May 20, while Pomona-Pitzer ends its season at 16-6. The Athenas will join the top-ranked CMS men's tennis team in Kalamazoo, after the Stags won their regional yesterday (5-0 over Trinity University) to advance to the quarterfinals to meet Bowdoin on May 20.

Freshmen Sarah Bahsoun and Sydney Lee had singles-doubles sweeps in their first career NCAA regionals. Bahsoun combined with junior Nicole Tan for a dominant 8-2 win at No. 2 for the first point of the match, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before surrendering their first game and settling for an 8-2 win. Lee and junior Madison Shea then earned the swing point at No. 3 with an 8-5 win in a match that saw several momentum changes, with the Athenas jumping ahead 3-0, Pomona-Pitzer battling back to tie it 3-3, before Lee and Shea surged back ahead 7-4 and held on for the win.

Bahsoun was the first to clinch in singles as she finished off a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 6 to give CMS the 3-1 lead. Sophomore Caroline Cox then brought CMS one point from the clinch with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 5 to make the score 4-1. 

Sophomore Rebecca Berger (No. 3) and Lee (No. 4) both had simultaneous match points with a chance to provide the clincher. After Berger (who led 6-2, 5-2) went to deuce on her court, Lee ended the match by breaking serve at love for a 6-2, 6-0 win and the decisive fifth point in the 5-1 win. Her final game included a perfectly-placed lob inside the baseline for 0-15, an inside-out forehard winner into the corner for 0-30, and a sharp backhand into the corner that forced a defensive swing to carry long on match point. 

Pomona-Pitzer managed one point in doubles, as Cox and junior Catherine Allen, the No. 1 ranked team in Division III, came up on the short end of an 8-5 loss to Maria Lyven and Arianna Chen, the first defeat they have suffered all year to a Division III team. Their only previous defeat all season was way back on Feb. 11 on the road against Division II UC San Diego (by a 6-2 score). Allen bounced back with a vengeance in singles to take the first set 6-0 against Pomona-Pitzer's Caroline Casper, with the second set standing at 6-5 in Casper's favor when the match was clinched.

CMS will head to Kalamazoo looking to win their second straight national title, after earning the first in the program's history at home last year (5-4 over Emory). Emory handed the Athenas their only loss this season in the finals of the ITA Indoor Nationals on March 3, and CMS has won 19 matches in a row since, while surrendering more than one point only once (a 7-2 win over Pomona-Pitzer in the regular season finale).   

The CMS men's and women's teams, which are now a combined 56-2 on the season, will head to Kalamazoo to try to win national championships in the same season for the first time in program history. Emory, Williams and Trinity (Texas) have all earned dual national titles in the same year, but it would be a first for CMS, which has four national titles combined between the two programs.