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The Athenas will begin the 2023 season ranked No. 1

CMS Women's Tennis Ranked First in Preseason ITA Division III Poll

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's tennis team is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the preseason NCAA Division III poll from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the organization announced today.

The Athenas enter the new season as the defending national champions, after taking down Chicago 5-1 in the national finals a year ago. Chicago is ranked second in the preseason poll this year, with Wesleyan third and Pomona-Pitzer fourth. 

Middlebury is ranked fifth, MIT sixth, Amherst seventh, Tufts eighth, Emory ninth and Sewanee 10th to round out the top 10. The Athenas defeated MIT, Wesleyan and Chicago in the final three rounds of the NCAA Championships last year, and also defeated Pomona-Pitzer 5-4 in the SCIAC Championship match to avenge two of its three losses (Emory was the other at the ITA Indoors). 

CMS does need to replace the top two singles players in its lineup from a year ago in All-Americans Crystal Juan and Sydney Lee, who played No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. In addition, Sarah Bahsoun, who played No. 6, also graduated after winning her last 34 dual matches in singles in a row, including both she played in national championship matches. Bahsoun and Devon Wolfe were also an all-senior doubles pairing that went 9-0 down the stretch together, including seven postseason wins. 

The Athenas have plenty of returning talent, though, and the newcomers had an immediate impact in the fall season to add to the optimism of the program repeating. Audrey Yoon (20-5), Ella Brissett (24-3) and Nikolina Batoshvili (17-5) had impressive debut seasons in singles last year, ending the year in the No. 3-5 positions, and will likely be key fixtures near the top of the ladder this year. 
Katherine Wurster was one of the Athenas to make an instant impact in the fall, earning the ITA West Region title by knocking off top-seed Angie Zhou of Pomona-Pitzer in the final, who reached the NCAA singles championship a year ago. 

In doubles, Batoshvili and Alisha Chulani were a major factor in last year's national title, earning the No. 1 seed in the NCAA doubles championship and going 7-0 in postseason duals. Gabby Lee played at No. 2 doubles last year (with Sydney Lee) and paired with Lindsey Eisenman to win the ITA West doubles championship in the fall. 

Chulani could also move into the singles lineup this year after a 13-1 record last season, while Gabby Lee was 13-4, and Sena Selby was 14-2. Arushi Malik finished 10-1, while newcomer Olivia Almy will also look to crack a deep lineup in her debut season. 

CMS opens the spring schedule on Feb. 5 against Westcliff, while playing its first two Division III matches at home on Feb. 24 against Brandeis and Southwestern. The Athenas will then head to the ITA National Indoor Championships from March 3-5.